Friday, August 19, 2016

The Liberation of Hypocrisy in Aleppo


Lies & Liberation

As Syrian government forces looked poised to encircle the rebels in east Aleppo by breaking their last remaining supply line, the selective humanity that so often accompanies aggressive interventions, which provides the veneer of humanitarianism to solely pragmatic and selfish acts, began to abound.

The UN’s humanitarian chief could not stress “how critical the situation is” to the Security Council.  “This is medieval and shameful,” he said, “we much not allow this to happen.”  “If nothing is done to stop the advance,” warns the Guardian, “disaster seems imminent.”  “Russia shoulders particularly great responsibility,” said the Germany's Foreign Minister, “on account of its support for the Syrian army and air force.”  The media explained this would be “the beginning of a new, humanitarian catastrophe of unprecedented proportions in Syria,” and therefore “Aleppo’s siege must be urgently lifted.”

Of course, such “medieval and shameful” acts are nothing that the US would ever contemplate today.  “You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion,” John Kerry reminded us after the reunification of Crimea into Russia.  The lesson, of course, was lost upon the people of Yemen, who were backwards enough to think that such principles were meant to apply universally, and not only to our enemies.

As the world was “failing to protect” against the horrors in East Aleppo, another siege was being laid, not to a section of a city, but to an entire nation. 

The Saudis have instituted a naval, land, and air blockade on Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, preventing the bulk of commercial shipping of which they are dependent from entering.  Yemen imports more than 90% of its food supply.  This has caused a “desperate shortage of food, water and medical supplies,” and has “choked a fragile economy already staggering under the impact” of war. 

The blockade has crippled “the country’s electricity supply,” forcing “the mass closure of hospitals and schools.”  Oxfam estimates the total without access to drinking water or sanitation at 16 million, nearly two thirds of the population, causing “dire implications for the spread of disease.”  At the same time 14.4 million people, more than half of the population, are food insecure and facing the possibility of famine.  The UN has decried this as a “humanitarian catastrophe”, estimating that “nearly 20 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance – 78% of the entire population.” (For comparison, it’s estimated that 18 million people in Syria, or 66% of its population, are in need of aid.)

Who cares?  Certainly not most informed opinion.  After initially reporting on the horrors, the UN and international organizations have largely abandoned the effort, as has the media.  Disciplined intellectuals realize that concern over such lives does not expedite the policies of concentrated power, and so are dutifully quiet on the subject.  One would be hard pressed to find the average person who even realizes there exists a siege on Yemen.

That person, given that they had but glanced at the news recently, would undoubtedly be aware of Aleppo, and the incarnate of evil that is Assad.  Yet if Assad is a monster, what is Saudi Arabia?

The Saudi invasion, which is really a US-Saudi invasion, was precipitated by a likely power-sharing agreement among the various warring factions.  Only it did not include Saud’s favorite puppet, the former President Hadi, who had been ousted by the Houthis after having balked on past commitments to institute power sharing mechanisms, instead choosing to consolidate his rule.  The Saudi’s then erased any possibility of a peaceful settlement and bombed, in an attempt to reinstate Hadi and thus their control over the country.  They predictably blamed all of this on Iran, yet that pretext was never backed by any evidence.  Instead, Iranian involvement increased as a result of the attack, the extent of its influence however remaining negligible.

In Syria, the US and its allies have instigated a proxy insurgency from abroad.  “In early 2011, Turkey and Saudi Arabia leveraged local protests against Assad to try to foment conditions for his ouster. By the spring of 2011, the CIA and the US allies were organizing an armed insurrection against the regime”, Jeff Sachs explains.  This armed insurrection included the sponsoring of some of the world’s most powerful terrorist organizations

Given these cases, who has the sounder argument for the use of force?

Without a sense of irony however, as the plight of Yemenis was disregarded, the suffering of east Aleppo was paramount on everyone’s minds.

It is true that there exists real pain and suffering in east Aleppo, civilians are daily slaughtered by bombs of the Syrian and Russian air force, causing untold misery and catastrophe.  Shortages of medicine, food, as well as basic supplies and services abound.  Most of the structures have been destroyed, while poverty runs rampant.

Yet is this the only reason why they are suffering?  If your humanity is conditioned upon the interests of imperialism, then yes, however when one looks further something different emerges.

In actuality, the people of Aleppo never welcomed, nor wanted the rebels to be there, the overwhelming majority of them supporting Assad.  When the rebels began to take control of eastern Aleppo in 2012 they admitted that they did not have the support of the population.  “Around 70% of Aleppo city is with the regime,” one rebel commander said, “It has always been that way.  The countryside is with us and the city is with them.” 

This did not stop the rebels from conquering the city all the same, with dire consequences for the population.  A year later residents would implore visiting journalists about the “malicious revolution” that reached them and the misrule of the Free Syrian Army who “started taking bread by force.”  They hoped that Assad would drive the militants out and defeat what they described as a scourge of “terrorism.”  The majority would complain of the suffering and lawlessness endured in the face of the abuses, banditry, and general looting being carried out by the violent militias.  They complained of their vulnerability and lack of security, and the lack of access to basic necessities like water, bread, and electricity.  They blamed the rebels for the city’s desperate conditions.

This was what was hailed as the “liberation” of Aleppo.

The media describes the city as a bastion for “revolutionary civil society.”

An FSA commander described it more accurately: “We liberated the rural parts of [Aleppo] province. We waited and waited for Aleppo [city] to rise, and it didn’t. We couldn’t rely on them to do it for themselves so we had to bring the revolution to them.”

This is the picture reported by journalists who visited the city.  In 2016 Stephen Kinzer of the Boston Globe wrote that “The coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press.”  He explained the situation as such: “For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: “Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.” Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it.”

The people, however, “finally [have] seen glimmers of hope,” as the Syrian army was successfully driving the militants from the area.  The fighters then began “wreaking havoc as they are pushed out of the city by Russian and Syrian Army forces.”  “Turkish-Saudi backed ‘moderate rebels’ showered the residential neighborhoods of Aleppo with unguided rockets and gas jars,” one local resident wrote.

Given this sordid reality most of the residents fled, relocating to the government held parts of the city.  When Martin Chulov of the Guardian visited the area in 2015, one of the only reporters to actually have done so, he reported that “roughly 40,000 from a prewar population estimated at about a million” still remained.

As all current reports estimate a figure of 200-300,000, Chulov defended his original figure, explaining that “whole suburbs were emptied even then [in 2015].  Most of the east [has been] uninhabitable for a long time.  No water or power… the number is nowhere near 300,000.”

Setting the Trap

As the conquest of eastern Aleppo evolved, as did the historiography of the coverage that accompanied it, an observation by Malcom X comes to mind.  “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”  In this case, those doing the oppressing are al-Qaeda, who came to rule east Aleppo along with other radical extremists.

It is “primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo,” explained the spokesman for the US operation against ISIS, Col. Steve Warren.

This, however, did not stop the major human rights organizations from claiming that extremists are only a “minority in the opposition.”  As for the newspapers, they would have you believe that the city is a hub of the “mainstream armed opposition.”  We are only wonderful people after all, and unlike Iran, would never support terrorists.

Yet Col. Warren’s assessment corroborates prior Pentagon assessments going back to 2012, and is further backed up by investigative reporting.

Drawing on an extensive range of local sources, journalist Gareth Porter shows a list of evidence which makes clear that every single rebel group in Aleppo “is engaged in a military structure controlled by Nusra militants.”  Soon after the Wall Street Journal would report that the rebels “are now dominated by hard-line Islamists determined to tear down all regime institutions.”

These kinds of things are best left hidden, however, and thus are buried deep within the doctrinal narratives.  Also hidden are explanations as to why events like this are currently taking place to begin with.  Here, however, there was a dedicated effort to deceive, something far from mere negligence.

The recent hostilities were a result of the failed ceasefire agreement, which looked very promising at first, holding for longer than most had expected.  It was agreed upon as a consequence of the shift in momentum that resulted from the Russian intervention.  Despite having the initiative, the Russians halted their advance before reaching Turkey’s border and before sealing the important Turkish supply lines.  Instead, they used their leverage to force upon the Americans a ceasefire agreement, and the pursuit of a political settlement. 

That is something you are not supposed to say however, instead this all is supposed to be understood as Russia “setting a trap” for us, as them being intransigent and dishonest in their commitments. 

Yet in reality this led to the peaceful cessation of hostilities that saw an end to the majority of the fighting, the US lacking the leverage to continue in its obstinacy and forced to pursue negotiations.  The problem was that the Russian intervention had such devastating success at routing the opposition that the US objective of overthrowing Assad lay in tatters unless the tide of war could be reversed.

Realizing the paramount importance that al-Qaeda played in the success of this strategy, John Kerry attempted to formally protect them under the ceasefire.  When this was rejected by Russia, a different strategy was adopted.

From the very beginning it was clear that powerful factions within the US establishment wanted the agreement to fail, and for a resumption of hostilities to occur.  The US and its allies then utilized the pause in fighting to rearm the al-Qaeda dominated insurgency, the weapons passing quite directly from the CIA-rebels to al-Qaeda.  A ubiquitous propaganda campaign began to proliferate the narrative that Russia would likely break the ceasefire.  This functioned as a means to prime public opinion to eventually blame the upcoming collapse on Putin and Assad. 

After stalling Russia at the negotiation table with far-from-serious talks of trying to “separate” the CIA’s rebels from their “comingling” with al-Qaeda, a known impossibility, the US-backed groups teamed up with al-Qaeda and launched a major offensive in Aleppo that broke and disintegrated the ceasefire for good.  The call to trigger this kind of large-scale resumption of hostilities was something that undoubtedly originated from the backers of the various groups.

This event was reported at the time, but immediately afterwards vanished from the narrative, the important facts deleted from subsequent reporting and therefore from public consciousness altogether.  The media distorted the reality, and the common knowledge now holds that it was Russia and Syria who had broken the agreement, like everyone always predicted that they would.

It is in this deception that we find the genesis of the recurrence of fighting in Aleppo, which eventuated in the Syrian army’s capture of the Castello road supply line and the siege of al-Qaeda controlled East Aleppo.

Gareth Porter explains that “The lesson of the Syrian ceasefire episode is clear: The most influential news media have virtually complete freedom to shape the narrative surrounding a given issue simply by erasing inconvenient facts from the storyline.”  Yet it would not end there.

Immediately after the siege began, the falsities and propaganda campaigns began as well.

Days prior to the siege it was widely reported that eastern Aleppo had stockpiled at least 3 months of supplies.  As the siege began, immediately those inconvenient facts were wiped from the storyline, supplies were reported to be quickly drying up, and a near humanitarian catastrophe was imminent.

When Russia announced that it was opening up humanitarian corridors for the besieged civilians to escape through, the main human rights organizations tried to denounce the effort and to argue against it, saying that it wouldn’t be good enough because “many civilians may be unable or afraid to leave.” (emphasis added) 

These organizations may have not realized that they were running interference and propaganda for al-Qaeda. 

The reason that civilians were afraid and unable to flee was because the rebels were preventing them from doing so.  One resident reporting that rebels were shooting at those trying to leave.  After all, with all the civilians evacuated there would be nothing left to stop the Syrian Army from starving and defeating the occupiers.

The world played along, the US taking center stage.  The State Department denounced Russia’s evacuation corridors, made no mention of the rebels preventing civilians from fleeing, and argued that “the innocent people of Aleppo should be able to stay in their homes.”  This all despite the fact that the civilians lucky enough to have escaped expressed utter joy at having made it out alive.  “Thank god we can’t believe we’re out.  May you never have to go through what we have been through.  They made us suffer.  No water, no electricity.  They robbed us.”  Another said “They made us suffer.  No food or anything…  They were cruel.  They broke my leg.  They killed my sons.”  When asked about how they were received in the government-held area, one said “They’ve been very good to us.  They provided us with everything.  Here is much better.  God preserve the president.”

Yet while the horrors of those still trapped within the city were the focus of everyone’s attention, another deadly siege was being imposed that was murdering countless more innocent lives, and nobody cared to talk about it. 

What Manbij?

One could be forgiven for not remembering the outcry from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, and the UN… because there simply wasn’t any.

The US has been besieging the ISIS-held city of Manbij for months.    

The strategy was described as a “scorched earth policy” in which “the attacking militias and the international coalition have dealt with Manbij civilians, who are estimated to be around 3,000 in number, as if they were terrorists or ISIS supporters.”

The thousands of civilians held under siege were trapped as all routes out of the town were cut, while ISIS as well prevented them from leaving, just as al-Qaeda did in Aleppo.

As a result, residents were extremely malnourished and at risk of starvation, reporting that the village had run out of bread and water, some not eating for days.  Electricity as well had been cut.  One AFP reporter saw a young boy begging on the streets for bread from passing cars.  Their condition was dire.

None of this, however, elicited any cries from the UN or human rights organizations, only one tepid UN report warning that the hostilities could displace civilians from their homes.  The daily pain and suffering inflicted upon the population was not enough to illicit an international outcry.  Indeed, it only after the coalition launched the deadliest single air assault on civilians of the entire war, which massacred at least 73 in a single strike, mostly women and children, that Amnesty expressed “alarm” over something so horrific that it could not have possibly been ignored.  Residents said there were no ISIS fighters in sight.  In a more recent strike the coalition murdered another 25 civilians, earning the US-led effort the sordid distinction of having launched “three of the deadliest single air attacks” on civilians out of the entire 5+ year war.

The response from the director of Human Rights Watch?  A tweet saying that “ISIS hold on Manbij… looks increasingly precarious.”  Nothing more.

Eventually the operation was completed, and ISIS was pushed from the city.

The situation however is hardly dissimilar from Aleppo.  In both instances the towns were held by radical extremists, al-Qaeda hardly being different from ISIS.  Both operations were aimed at liberating the city from jihadists, yet whereas the civilian suffering in Manbij was met with silence, an international outpouring engulfed the media for those in Aleppo.  The difference, of course, is that one is expected to view the Syrian government’s siege as being brutal and aimed primarily against civilians, and thus to call for its end, while the US-imposed siege is to be viewed as an effort to liberate civilians from evil, the massacres and scorched earth policy could conveniently be placed aside and forgotten. 

When put into perspective, the efforts of the media, international human rights groups, the US, and the UN all appear aimed at mobilizing support for a halting of the Syrian Army’s advances, and thus to protect the al-Qaeda-led opposition which they are attacking.  Human lives are of no concern, except for when their suffering could be utilized for the furtherance of US interests.

There is, however, another major difference, namely that the US has no right to be bombing in Syria. 
 
It might appear strange to read those words, yet one could imagine that in a world where law is not continually usurped by the leading hegemonic power that it might make a difference that the US has, against international law, and without the permission of the Syrian government, invaded Syrian lands with their warplanes and murdered scores of civilians in the process.  The United Nations has indeed authorized the use of force against ISIS and al-Qaeda, but only under the conditions that both international law as well as national sovereignty be respected.  The US, as the world’s leading rogue state, has done neither.

Russia, on the other hand, has a full mandate from the UN, and has been inviting by the Syrian government, and is in complete accordance with international law. 

The distortions of these inconvenient realities are typical, however.  They recall, as Chomsky explains, “Orwell’s observations on the “indifference to reality” of the “nationalist,” who “not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but … has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them” in the first place.

We are the good guys, after all.  Facts notwithstanding.

A Very Different Track

The current rebel offensive to lift the siege of Aleppo had been planned for months in advance. 

Since the beginning of the year the US and its allies have been shipping thousands of tons of weapons to the opposition.

Russia had warned in April that large amounts of weapons were crossing from Turkey into Syria, and that thousands of al-Qaeda fighters were gathering for an offensive.  Nusra itself said that the attack had been planned “months ago.”

The preparations were accompanied by a smokescreen of diplomacy, in which John Kerry feigned to have offered a proposal to Russia about jointly fighting al-Qaeda which he knew they would refuse.  This also allowed the Saudis and Turks to rebrand their favorite al-Qaeda proxies, which as of yet has failed to exonerate their image or their ties to al-Qaeda.

The genesis of all of this was revealed back in May when John Kerry warned that unless Assad voluntarily steps down by August 1st, he was asking for “a very different track.”  That “very different track” was realized on August 1st when the rebels launched one of the biggest offensives of the war to date, aimed at breaking the siege. 

One could imagine what the response would be if Assad, Russia, and Iran had organized, armed, and financed a major ISIS offensive to break the US siege of Manbij, yet for the not-so-different al-Qaeda, they were the “liberators of Aleppo.”

The Aleppo “liberation” was indeed led and organized by al-Qaeda, and from the start has been aimed at imposing a new, much more deadly siege on the government-held area.  Government-held western Aleppo houses 1.5 million Syrians, as opposed to the east’s 40-50,000; thus the logical conclusion of the international outcry to “liberate” the siege was to impose a completely new one on 1.5 million others.

The rebels have repeatedly cut off the water supply to these 1.5 million civilians, which is deceptively reported as being the result of “escalated fighting” with no mention as to who is responsible.  They have as well continuously showered civilians with US-supplied rockets, mortars, and hellfire cannons.  A doctor on the ground explains “there are not only tens of mortars every day which fell on the western part of Aleppo, but hundreds, and every day we have hundreds killed or wounded.  And nobody spoke about it.”  The attacks consist of “a rain of mortars” which send 20 to 30 injured people to overcrowded public hospitals at a time.  Lacking in staff and equipment, when there are “ten severely wounded persons arriving at the same time,” by the time care arrives “a victim has time to die.”

Perhaps not-surprisingly then is the fact that the al-Qaeda led rebels named their offensive after Ibrahim Youseph, who former Sunday Times reporter Hala Jaber explains is deemed a hero “for separating Sunnis from Alawites and apostates and executing 80 of them” in 1979.  The rebels now pledge to do the same “blessed” thing from the lands they take from the government.  They announce that they will “kill all Alawites and desecrate their bodies.”  This not only was announced by the al-Qaeda fighters leading the battle, but as well by the wider coalition participating in the attacks, which includes the CIA-backed “moderates.”

In typical jihadi fashion the offensive was launched with suicide bombers exploding themselves over government positions.  The bombers are told they will go to “paradise” where they will be given 72 virgins whose kisses will “fill your mouth with honey and honeycomb.” 

The “liberation” of largely deserted eastern Aleppo is a radical jihadi attempt to besiege and conquer the 1.5 million residing in the west while ethnically cleansing and genociding the Alawites “and apostates” they find there.  If successful, the rebels will put under siege more civilians “than all those besieged by the regime nationwide,” and initiate a “wave of repression” and “terrorism” like that which characterized the initial conquest of Aleppo in the first place.

We indeed have “a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about” the “atrocities committed by our side,” as well as those we are soon likely to commit.

The reason is that all of this is hidden within the “humanitarianism” one finds in the newspapers, which is solely defined by its proximity to the furtherance of policy interests, even going so far as for a chief correspondent to be seen praising the radical jihadis at the UN, saying they have emerged as “heroes on the ground.”

As the rebels look poised to potentially fully break the siege and in turn lay siege to millions more, it appears obvious that under the false guise of humanitarianism, which is so commonly an opportunistic effort to mobilize support for policy with no basis in principles, the western press has conducted a massive propaganda effort to clear the way for an al-Qaeda victory in Syria, and to impede the popular, secular forces fighting against jihadi terrorism, which we have officially expressed to be our most hated of enemies.

The “logic” of imperialism is indeed truly wondrous to behold.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Rich Get Rich While the Poor go to Prison

When analyzing the issues of police brutality in America and the Black Lives Matter movement, a lot of the most important aspects of the situation are rarely talked about.
Firstly, we have to ask how the criminal justice system operates and how it relates to power and inequality. The best and most detailed analysis of this that I have found is The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison by Jeffrey Reiman.
It argues that the justice system does not function by identifying and pursuing the most harmful and threatening criminal behavior within society, but instead maintains a laser-like focus on punishing the harmful acts of the poor while allowing and enabling the overwhelmingly more harmful acts of the rich to continue, things such as companies that release toxic chemicals into the air and workers who get killed because of dishonest regulatory practices, or, for instance, when Wall Street destroys the economy and millions of people lose their homes, jobs, and savings… that little thing.
Instead of reflecting the actual threats to society our system acts as a sort of carnival mirror which magnifies the threat of street crime while minimizing that of the much more dangerous corporate crime. At the same time in a vastly disproportionate way it incarcerate the impoverished and disenfranchised for things that all classes engage in, like non-violent drug use.
While doing this, the system has had no discernible success at lowering crime rates, the rates of crime today being roughly equivalent as those of the ’60s (before the war on drugs and our addiction to mass incarceration began).
So what we’re talking about is a system that arbitrarily targets the poor and fails to protect citizens from societies most serious dangers. This of course doesn’t imply that a lot of the criminals in jail aren’t actually bad people who deserve to be separated from society, a lot of them are, but this strategy of zero tolerance is not effective in any recognizable way at lessening the problem of crime. Instead it maintains power relations and supports the interests of one class against the others.
Reiman describes this as what he calls a “Pyrrhic defeat.” A Pyrrhic victory describes a military victory which is so costly in terms of troops and money that it is considered a defeat. The Pyrrhic defeat theory holds that the failure of the justice system yields such positive benefits to those in positions of power that it amounts to a success. In order to maintain this situation, those in power and the dominant media institutions propagate a narrative that the real threat to Americans comes from law-breaking poor minorities, not those at the top. This unrealistic picture of the world then leads Americans to demand harsher “tough on crime” policies aimed primarily at the lower classes. Instead of mitigating crime rates, this kind of system instead maintains a continual criminal underclass while as well even aiding the proliferation of crime. (Reiman describes a study in which students were asked to devise a system from scratch that would further crime rather than reduce it. The characteristics they described, things like arbitrary arrests for non-violent recreational activities – marijuana use – and making it virtually impossible to reenter society after conviction, were almost exact replicas of the way our system currently functions.)
The inability of the criminal justice system to adequately address the problem of crime was understood decades ago. In 1967 President Lyndon Johnson’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice observed that the system was “not designed to eliminate the conditions in which most crime breeds.” It noted that “crime flourishes where the conditions of life are the worst”, and thus what needs to be done is “to eliminate slums and ghettos, to improve education, to provide jobs, to make sure that every American is given the opportunities and freedoms that will enable him to assume his responsibilities.” (Challenge of Crime in a Free Society, President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, 1967, p. 279)
Criminal justice in America instead is based upon the idea of individual guilt and punishment, when in reality criminal behavior is a result of the larger structural system around us and all of the various pressures and incentives that exist within it. Crime doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but is a product of environmental forces and the ways in which we are likely to respond to them. For instance, a 1992 study found a strong correlation between unemployment and crime. (Merva & Fowles, Effects of Diminished Economic Opportunities on Social Stress, Economic Policy Institute, 1992)
Coming back to police brutality however, the problem primarily stems from the changes to the economy that began in the ’70s.
At that time financialization began to take hold and the US industrial sector was gutted as corporations began extensively outsourcing production to factories akin to sweat-shops in places like China and Vietnam. This created an entire class of mostly poor and unemployed people without opportunities for work, and it effected the black and Hispanic populations the worst.
Instead of dealing with the “conditions in which crime breeds” decision-makers decided to use police and to build prisons. This “superfluous population” of people that capitalism had no use for (this was how those at the top of the establishment viewed them) were dealt with through mass incarceration. There is extensive documentation, such as in Christian Parenti’s Lockdown America, on the way in which “zero-tolerance” and “3 strike” policies and harsh police tactics swept these people up into the criminal justice system, often times utilizing massive brutality and violations of rights and freedoms while making arrests based on trumped up charges and giving extraordinary sentence lengths way out of proportion with the crime committed. (In one of these such cases a man with 2 decade-and-a-half old charges on his record was sentenced to life in prison after stealing a pair of socks worth $2.50.)
The police resembled an occupying force utilized against the poor that served as a tool of social control and repression.
This all was mainly targeted against black people, who on the whole have been kept to the bottom rungs of the socioeconomic ladder due to a historical pattern of discrimination. The cops largely adopted a racist ideology and targeted people based on their skin color, even though this kind of criminal behavior, mainly 1-on-1 offenses like theft and assaults, are related to deprivation and poverty, not race. Impoverished white communities have the same persistence of crime that impoverished black communities have.
The mechanism for accomplishing all of this was drugs.
H.R. Halderman, one of Nixon’s aides, said that “[President Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.” (Christian Parenti, Lockdown America, p. 3)
That system was the war on drugs, which openly was aimed at low level drug users and dealers (how could anyone have taken them seriously with a strategy like that?) which massively incarcerated the disenfranchised classes for something that all classes participate in nearly equally. African-Americans use and sell drugs at about the same rates as whites. Those who filled the massive prison population boom were mainly drug offenders from poor, minority backgrounds.
Recently another Nixon insider, John Ehrlichman, explained the reasoning behind all of this: “You want to know what this was really about? The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
This is what Michelle Alexander, a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer and legal scholar, is talking about when she describes the New Jim Crow, a system of criminalization which puts millions of already marginalized people into a “permanent second-class citizenship” status through their criminal records. Once branded as criminal, even for things like petty offenses, the authorities are then able to further intrude upon people’s lives and violate rights and freedoms, which in turn leads to the branding of more serious criminal labels which furthers the legal ability to violate rights even more.
The initial stage of this process usually begins at an extremely young age, children are arrested in grade school for things like “insubordination” or talking back to teachers.
In The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, Reiman describes that when predominately poor and minority children get caught by police for a petty offense, they are more likely to be treated as though they need to be punished and taught a lesson. When children at the top of the socioeconomic ladder get caught for similar offenses, they are more likely to be treated as though they made a mistake and deserve a second chance.
In our society we treat poor minorities as though they are criminals who need to be punished while we treat the privileged as though they are people with problems that are in need of help.
Alexander describes in one of her lectures how she was approached by a young black man who presented her with evidence of systematic police brutality in his community. Alexander, who had dedicated her career to social justice cases, thought the evidence highly convincing, but once she learned that the man was a convicted criminal she turned him down. The reason why is that in the courts a criminal’s word is basically good for nothing, especially when going up against officers of the state. She explains how her epiphany on this issue occurred when the boy became furious at her, stating that she was no “different from them” and challenging her to find one kid in his neighborhood who they hadn’t “got to yet.”
She describes how the stories of those principally abused and oppressed by the police are not being heard “because they have been branded criminals, branded felons, and we, as a nation, have decided that they are unworthy of our care and concern.”
She describes how from then on she began her journey, listening to the countless stories of people who have been cycling in and out of prison while conducting extensive amounts of research in order to try and understand what was really going on, to find out why it was true that she hadn’t been able to find a young black man in that neighborhood who the police hadn’t “got to yet.”
Her conclusions were that there exists an underprivileged class of people that are members of what she describes as a criminal “caste system,” which makes things like higher education, employment, housing and public assistance virtually unobtainable.
The result of all of this, as Chris Hedges points out, is that police officers are now continually carrying out “random acts of legalized murder against poor people of color not because they are racist, although they may be, or even because they are rogue cops, but because impoverished urban communities have evolved into miniature police states.” The reality for people living in these miniature police states is that “police can stop citizens at will, question and arrest them without probable cause, kick down doors in the middle of the night on the basis of warrants for nonviolent offenses, carry out wholesale surveillance, confiscate property and money and hold people—some of them innocent—in county jails for years before forcing them to accept plea agreements that send them to prison for decades. They can also, largely with impunity, murder them.”
Therefore, any minor change like body cameras and increased convictions for brutality, though necessary and needed, ultimately will not solve the underlying causes from which the problem stems and thus will not reform the system. Certainly things like firing this or that individual or advocating that what needs to be done is to appoint “the good cops” will fail as well.
The problem is that we are faced with an institutional system set up to protect the powerful and punish the poor, one which enacts policies and economic restructuring that massively redistributes wealth to a privileged minority and then responds to the problems which arise from those brutalized by these policies with mass incarceration and police repression. Criminal law brandishes a whole class of people into a status of second-class citizenship, and social problems which necessitate education and opportunities are dealt with through violence. All while the major criminals in corporate boardrooms are free to continue harming society as they please while generating massive profits. Highly centralized economic power then translates into political power, and the society is further constructed in the interests of the few against the well being of the majority.
If we do not fundamentally change the justice system into one that handles crime based on its relative threat to society irrespective of class and ethnicity, while as well democratizing the political and economic systems away from rule by plutocracy, police will continue killing black people and the poor, and they will continue to get away with it.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The US Admits it Supports al-Qaeda, But Don't Worry Because it's Okay

According to the Pentagon, Aleppo is "primarily held" by al-Qaeda.  They argue that the rebels the CIA supports there are allies of al-Qaeda.  The CIA, however, "rejects that claim, saying alliancess of convenience in the face of a mounting Russian-led offensive have created marriages of battlefield necessity, not ideology."

Only the CIA doesnt "reject that claim", they don't deny the fact that the rebels they back are in alliance with al-Qaeda, they admit that it is true and then go on and try to justify the crime of supporting international terrorism.

The US is, by their own admission, supporting one of the most horrific terrorist groups in the world through their rebel proxies.  Noting this fact only a few months ago would have been rejected outright as some kind of conspiracy theory lunacy, yet now that they are unable to hide it anymore the propaganda narrative has changed.  Instead of denying it they admit it, and say the rebels do work with al-Qaeda only they really really don't want to, and so its okay.  The problem however is that every single claim made in this argument is false.

They claim that the collusions are "alliances of convenience", except that when the Cessation of Hostilities was agreed upon it was the "moderate" FSA commanders who literally begged the US and Russia to include al-Qaeda in the ceasefire and protect them from being targeted.  They referred to the group as their "brothers" and as an "honorable faction."  A few months ago an al-Qaeda commander was filmed presenting a gift to an FSA officer stating that "al-Qaeda and the FSA are one" while thanking him for using US-supplied TOW anti-tank missiles in support of al-Qaeda on the battlefield.  A few years ago the commander who recieved the largest amount of US aid was interviewed on TV and said al-Qaeda are the "brothers" of the FSA, and that "al-Qaeda does not exhibit any behavior that is different from the FSA" and "our relationship" with the extremists is "good."

This is the reality of the relationship, yet when the rebels are instructed by their British government propaganda arm (the US and UK have admitted to running a PR shop for the FSA in order to clean up their image) they tell the media that they really don't want to be working with al-Qaeda, the media then accept this as fact, and the public are shielded from the inconvenient reality.

Secondly the CIA claims that they themselves do not want the rebels to be working with al-Qaeda, except that it was the US who directly TOLD the rebels to work with them and to subordinate themselves under an al-Qaeda dominated front.  When the rebels first conquered Aleppo in 2015, it was revealed in Foreign Policy that the US-led operations rooms had instructed the rebels to fight alongside al-Qaeda and operate under their command.

Back in 2014 one of the CIA-backed rebel commanders revealed to The Independent that he had been instructed by "those who support us", i.e. the US and its allies, to send weapons to the jihadi groups.  "When they tell us to do this, we do it," he said.

Thirdly it's claimed that the alliances are a response to the Russian intervention, however as just described the rebels have been working with al-Qaeda long before the Russians ever started bombing.

After this is pointed out it is then argued that the alliances are the result of Assad and his strategy of "bombing the moderates," yet this argument instantly collapses upon examination.  The US instigated a proxy insurgency from abroad that has supported some of the world's most viscous terrorists, and Syria has every right to defend itself against this attack.  Syria has always fought against al-Qaeda and ISIS and their US-backed affiliates, the "bombing the moderates" line is an attempt to obscure this fact.  Further they have every right to attack the affiliates of al-Qaeda, a UN Security Council resolution was reached (that the US agreed to) which calls on all countries to work to eliminate al-Qaeda, ISIS, "and all affiliated groups."  What sane and rational person would argue against fighting the affiliates of al-Qaeda?

Fifthly it is argued that these alliances are not a reflection of shared ideology, except it has been widely reported years back that there "isn't a secular group in sight" in Syria, the foremost academic experts on the country have reported that nearly all of the rebels are exclusively Sunni Muslim and that they all desire some from of an Islamic state, meaning one consisting of reactionary Shariah law.

And lastly it's argued that these alliances are a result of "battlefield necessity."  Here, however, I actually agree.

Vice president Biden admitted that "there are no moderates" because "the moderates are made up of shopkeepers, not soldiers," while Obama explained that these shopkeepers would never be an effective fighting force, and so there was no "clean way" to carry out their policy of overthrowing the government in Syria.  Thus the need to work with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey in supporting the most violent extremist elements.  The strategy is one of utilizing the radical jihadis as a means of bringing the Syrian government to its knees and to force it to comply with US demands.  If they want to topple Assad, then they have to support the most effective forces on the battlefield which are the extremists.  This, however, is not an argument for supporting extremists, it is an argument against it.

Despite the fact that all of the claims in this argument are false, all of this really doesn't matter.  The US admits to supporting al-Qaeda through their proxies.  Only the vilest of monsters would argue "yes, we are supporting terrorists, but...."

The US and its allies instigated an insurgency by proxy and have supported the worst terrorists groups in the process because it was beneficial to their goals of imperialism.  They then go on to blame Assad and Russia for what they are doing.

When the US and its allies support terror groups because it helps them destroy Syria, it's their fault, and only the most deranged of psychopaths would argue otherwise.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Terror Attack in Nice

Perhaps one of the most striking features of the attack in Nice are not what occurred in France, but instead how the reaction exemplifies the selective humanity that we exhibit depending on where terrorism occurs. 

The public, politicians, and the media all rightfully displayed outrage over the string of attacks that have been plaguing France over the past 18 months, as well as the recent Orlando shooting in the US, yet the level of outrage and media coverage never reaches the same levels when terrorism strikes other parts of the world, in particular the Middle East. 

This in turn breeds a skewed perception in the West that it is a “battle of civilizations” that is being fought.  It obscures by omission the fact that most of the terrorism committed by groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS is perpetuated against other Arabs in Muslim-majority countries.  This flawed perception then leads to the painting of all Muslim’s as terrorists, fueling the ignorant racism of calls by the likes of Donald Trump to discriminate against them, completely neglecting the fact that it is Muslims and Arabs that are on the forefront of this battle sacrificing their lives to rid the world of the jihadis.  It paints a picture in Western minds that the cause of all of this is an ethereal religious ideology, or that this is a problem inherent in Arab and Muslim “blood, in their DNA”, when in reality the extremism is mainly an outgrowth of the practical imperialism that is arming, training, and financially supporting the terror groups for purposes of geopolitical expansion, the main driver of which being the United States.

For example, not many spoke out when just last week nearly 300 were killed in Baghdad following the detonation of a truck bomb for which ISIS claimed responsibility.  It was the deadliest attack in the Iraqi capital in years, yet exactly what were the circumstances that led ISIS to thrive there?

When ISIS declared its existence in Syria in 2014, it had long been known that the group would push back into its old pockets of support in the cities of Mosul and Ramadi.

2 years prior in 2012, a vetted Intelligence Information Report of the DIA was circulated throughout the Obama administration.  It predicted the rise of ISIS given the support from “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey” to a Syrian opposition dominated by “the Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq).”  It predicted that the continued empowerment of these forces would cause deterioration, which would have “dire consequences on the Iraqi situation”, thus precipitating “the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi, and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria.”

Given this information, the US and its allies increased their support for the Syrian opposition throughout the next two years.  Indeed, it was our “major Arab allies” that funded the rise of the Islamic State. 

This wasn’t a secret however, the Saudi Foreign Minister himself told John Kerry that the Islamic State was a Saudi creation, stating to him that “Daesh [Isis] is our [Sunni] response to your support for the Da’wa” — the Tehran-aligned Shia Islamist ruling party of Iraq. 

During this time the US enjoyed an intimate relationship with the Saudi’s vis-à-vis their mutual Syria policy, the Saudi’s provided the weapons and petrodollars for the rebels in exchange for “a seat at the table” and to say “what the agenda is going to be.”  That agenda, according to the 2012 DIA report, was “the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria” which was “exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want” given their desire “to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion” from Iran and into Iraq. 

This was confirmed by then head of the DIA, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who stated that it had been a “willful decision” for the administration to ignore the intelligence warnings of an impending Islamic State and to instead continue on with their policy regardless.

This all in turn led to a situation in 2014 in which ISIS was mobilizing as a potent force, and began to make its push into Iraq.

This imminent push was well known to US intelligence

According to high level officials, the US “had significant intelligence about the pending Islamic State offensive… For the US military, it was an open secret at the time… It surprised no one.”

In a Senate testimony in 2014 DIA director Flynn warned that “the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.”

The US though, did nothing.

According to the WSJ, “the failure to confront ISIS sooner wasn't an intelligence failure. It was a failure by policy makers to act on events that were becoming so obvious that the Iraqis were asking for American help for months before Mosul fell. Mr. Obama declined to offer more than token assistance.”

Yet there is no need to speculate on why nothing was done, Obama told us himself. 

The strategy was to utilize the ISIS attack as a means to pressure the Iraqi Prime Minister, in an effort to lead to his ouster.  The reason “that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in,” Obama explained, was because “that would have taken the pressure off of Maliki.”

Not long after Maliki stepped down, and Abadi took his place.  ISIS, however, remained a potent force in Iraq for years to come, paving the way for the attacks last week, killing upwards of 300, unfortunately only one among many others.


Turning back to France, the continual occurrence of terrorist activity is intimately tied in with involvement in the Syria crisis.

By 2012 France had “emerged as the most prominent backer of Syria's armed opposition" and was then "directly funding rebel groups… as part of a new push to oust the embattled Assad regime.”

This being only months after the DIA had warned “the Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq)” were “the major forces driving the insurgency.” 

And while France justified its involvement through talk of a “moderate opposition”, the CIA’s point-man, sent to the country throughout 2012 to meet with the rebels, saw for himself that “there were no moderates” there at that time.

It was France’s policy of attempting to oust Assad that directly led to the rise of extremist jihadis inside Syria and Iraq, yet the media establishment is criminally ignorant to these underlying geopolitical machinations. 

Former MI6 officer Alastair Crooke describes the situation as such: “the jihadification of the Syrian conflict had been a “willful” policy decision, and that since Al Qaeda and the ISIS embryo were the only movements capable of establishing such a Caliphate across Syria and Iraq, then it plainly followed that the U.S. administration, and its allies, tacitly accepted this outcome, in the interests of weakening, or of overthrowing, the Syrian state.” 

He notes that this strategy dates back to the Cold War, in which “setting the destruction of secular nationalism [was] its overwhelming priority,” and therefore, “America by default found itself compelled to be allied with the Gulf Kings and Emirs who traditionally have resorted to Sunni jihadism as the inoculation against democracy.”

This continued on into the Bush administration: “The 2003 war in Iraq had not brought about the pro-Israeli, pro-American regional bloc that had been foreseen by the neocons, but rather, it had stimulated a powerful “Shia Crescent” of resistance stretching from Iran to the Mediterranean,” causing the Sunni states to be “petrified of a Shiite resurgence”, and thus necessitating the creation of a Sunni proxy force that could rival Hezbollah and Iran, which found its realization in al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria.  

Indeed, Obama and Biden both admitted that they did not believe in the farce of arming “moderates”, Obama stating that “When you have a professional army that is well-armed and sponsored by two large states who have huge stakes in this, and they are fighting against a farmer, a carpenter, an engineer who started out as protesters and suddenly now see themselves in the midst of a civil conflict, the notion that we could have, in a clean way that didn’t commit U.S. military forces, changed the equation on the ground there was never true.” (Emphasis added)  Biden bluntly summarized: “there was no moderate middle because the moderate middle are made up of shopkeepers, not soldiers.”

And so “the answer as so often was to move to more covert means… by increasing the clandestine operations in support of the opposition including the jihadists.”

Yet this even goes a step further, with the French authorities tacitly allowing or even encouraging the flow of French nationals into Syria.

In 2013 Foreign Policy put out a story noting that upwards of 1,000 European nationals were travelling into Syria.  The headline read “Hundreds are joining the fight against Assad. Will they return as terrorists?” 

The French Interior Minister counted at least 140 French citizens making the sojourn, and while he admitted that “It is a ticking time bomb,” no actual concern or alarm was raised to do something about it.

“For the time being,” the Minister said, “there is no legal basis for arresting the European jihadists or barring them from leaving or entering France.”  He further justified the lack of action by stating that “The fighters in Syria are not fighting France or Europe; they are fighting against the Assad regime.  It’s not against French law to fight in a war, but it is a crime to participate in a terrorist organization."

Former counter-terrorism officer and Scotland Yard detective Charles Shoebridge explains the situation further: “For the first two of the last three years, countries such as the UK and France did little to stem the flow of their citizens to an already destabilised Syria and Libya, perhaps believing these jihadists would serve Western foreign policy objectives in attacking Gaddafi and Assad for example.”

“Only when domestic intelligence services began to warn of the dangers of blowback from such people, and when groups such as ISIS began over the last year to turn against the West in Iraq and Syria for example, was any real action taken to stop the flow of UK and French citizens to what, in effect, were largely western policy created terrorist recruiting and training grounds. By then, as Europe seems increasingly likely to experience, it was already too late.”

Yet action did not include halting Western involvement in the Syrian war, which created the threat of terrorism in the first place, nor did it consist of ending involvement with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, who are the principle supporters of the terrorist movements.

Instead, what was done was business-as-usual: a state of emergency, more lockdowns, infringements on civil liberties and freedoms, and more aggressive war-posturing which sees the threat of terrorism as something you can bomb away, while neglecting all of its true sources.

In a detailed analysis by Britain’s leading international security scholar, Dr. Nafeez Ahmed notes that President Hollande’s reactive declaration of war “We will continue striking those who attack us on our own soil” is not solely a reference to Syria but as well to France’s current military involvement against Islamists in North Africa.

“Over the last half decade, Islamist militant factions affiliated to both the Islamic State and al-Qaeda have dramatically expanded their foothold in North Africa,” Ahmed writes, “spurred by the vacuum left from the aborted NATO war on Libya.”

The military-security architecture in the region is led by the United States, under the jurisdiction of AFRICOM.

Yet Ahmed notes that “Intelligence documents… prove that… the US, British and French were well aware that Algerian military intelligence had played a double-game, covertly financing al-Qaeda affiliated militants as a mechanism to consolidate its domestic control, and project power abroad.”  This al-Qaeda threat spilled over into Mali, “But instead of cracking down hard on Algeria’s state-sponsorship of Islamist terror, the US and British turned a blind eye, and the French invaded Mali.”

The French now have a permanent military presence in Mali, first envisioned as a means to rollback the Islamist uprising yet which has instead “seen an intensification of Islamic violence,” and has transformed itself into “a semi-colonial arrangement,” which lends support to brutal government repression that only further exacerbates tensions in the region. 

Ahmed notes that “Ongoing secretive operations and draconian abuses, along with extensive support for repressive regimes, one of which – Algeria – directly sponsored some of the Islamist factions running riot across the region, serves to stoke local grievances, but does little to shut down the terror networks… The US-French support for the region’s repressive governments, in the name of counter-terrorism, stokes further resentment.”

Yet Dr. Ahmed also points out that in the same way local grievances in France are as well exacerbated by a similar approach of expanded state repression.  Arbitrary house searches, the targeting of Muslims based upon religious affiliation rather than actual evidence, the arbitrary and unjustified closing down of mosques, all serve to create an environment in which the French government has “trampled on the rights of hundreds of men, women and children, leaving them traumatised and stigmatised,” resulting in “already marginalised Muslim communities in France experiencing routine state abuses.”

What all of this does is strengthen al-Qaeda, ISIS, and all other extremist elements which depend upon the brutal repression of Muslims to give legitimacy to their propaganda.  Propaganda which states that the West is the enemy of all Muslims, that in Western countries they will only face repression, brutality, and abuse, and so therefore must join in the jihad against the Western enemy, or if not be branded as apostates and live under the torment of the Western regimes.

The more we respond to terror with further abuses and more wars, the more the engine that marginalizes disenfranchised populations will continue making them vulnerable to extremist manipulation.


The major sources of these events can be deduced and intelligent steps can be implemented to prevent against their occurrence, yet the reaction taken after each continues to neglect logic and reasoning and perpetuates actions that exacerbate, rather than mitigate, the problem.  At the center of these follies is the persistent prioritization of acquisitions of power, imperialism, and resource domination that sideline concerns about terrorism.  Often these pursuits utilize the veiled pretext of “anti-terrorism” to justify their aims, aims which in fact support the very terror that they claim to oppose.  In Syria, the fight against ISIS is waged by supporting an al-Qaeda dominated insurgency, while in North Africa counter-terrorism serves as a pretext for military expansion, increasing the grievances which lead to more terror.  

The predictable result of all of this is more terror, more wars, more oppression, and more death. 

Only when pressure is put on those states, interests, and agencies to halt their selfish lusting for power will the terrorism ever truly cease.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Turkey's War Against the Kurds (Part 2): Power, Terrorism, and the Pretext for War

The Rejection of Peace

Turkeys war against its Kurdish population in its current iteration is as much about Erdogan and the Turkish power structures consolidating and maintaining their power as is their crackdown against journalism.  It has not been waged as a war to protect Turkish civilians from Kurdish insurgents but instead as a means to “protect” the oppressive power hierarchies that exist which seek to maintain the disparate position of the political-economic elite.  Instead of listening to the legitimate grievances of the Kurdish population, Erdogan and the AKP have chosen a strategy of violence, terrorism, and xenophobia in order to degrade the growing political power of the Kurds and to consolidate their rule and the continuation of their criminal policies.


The pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) and the Kurdish military wing Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) have not been demanding independence, instead they have been calling for autonomy.  This in the face of Turkey’s political establishment historically treating the Kurds as second class citizens and denying them the right to be educated using their native language.  In response they have organized societal institutions in a radically different manner than the Turkish state, prioritizing the ideal of local, non-hierarchical forms of direct democracy.  In their view, as Professor of Economics at the University of Greenwich Mehmet Ugur explains, this is because “the nation state is now considered an anachronistic institution; and local democracy (including recognition and representation of distinct identities) has been embraced as a solution not only for the Kurdish question but also for democratisation in Turkey, Iraq and Syria.”

The Turkish government was never serious about officially devolving meaningful power for the Kurds to exercise over their locality, and has balked on agreeing to any kind of political peace negotiation.  This is due in part to the ideological currents running through the political establishment that as well permeate elite sectors of business and other societal institutions. 

This very nationalistic way of thinking sees the unilateral designs of the winning electoral party as encompassing ‘the national will,’ and thus equates dissent against them with ‘treason.’ 

Professor Ugur further explains: “The national will is expressed through elections that the party wins through multi-party competitions…  All other parties and civil-society organisations critical of the majority party can be demonised as collaborators of internal and external forces bent on preventing the nation from expressing its will. That is why AKP rhetoric has been based on ‘national will’ rather than democracy. That is also why AKP practice has been geared towards removal of legal, administrative and civil-societal checks and balances that could prevent the government from exercising absolutist majority rule. That is also why the AKP elite has gradually but increasingly deployed state power to equate dissent with treason.” 

In the logic of the AKP, “institutional checks and balances are dysfunctional because they make the exercise of the ‘national will’ cumbersome.”   

This way of thinking has a historical basis, which sees Turkey’s history in the context of 3 sets of beliefs: “(i) the Turks have established sixteen states, fifteen of which collapsed and the last one (the Republic of Turkey) must not face the same fate; (ii) the state is a father figure and the first duty of its sons (daughters are excluded explicitly or implicitly) is to obey the father’s authority; and (iii) the Turkish state is surrounded by all sort of enemies who work with internal collaborators to destabilise the country and prevent it from fulfilling its full potential.” 

Because of this, a relationship of patronage between business and state has emerged in which business interests and state-subservience co-exist: “Organised interests in Turkey (business organisations, their lobby groups, bosses of co-opted trades unions, most university rectors, the religious establishment, etc.) have read this script correctly. They presented their specific interests as true reflections of the national interest, which the Turkish state served in return for continued loyalty. That is why both sides have always been in tune when it comes to suppressing any opposition that questions the de jure or de facto rules of the game.”

Not surprising then is the Turkish governments unwillingness to devolve autonomy powers to the Kurds.  Indeed, it was Turkey that withdrew from a mostly farcical peace process just after the Kurdish HDP dealt a huge blow to Erdogan’s AK Party in the June 2015 elections. 

As the pro-Kurdish HDP gained enough votes to cross the threshold to enter parliament their victory forced the AKP to form a coalition government instead of exercising majority rule.  Their success was a sign of growing political influence as well as a symbol of the growing sympathy towards the Kurdish cause that had been building within the country.  Rising Kurdish political influence coupled with a threat to Erdogan’s own power was the driving impetus for Turkey to reignite a violent conflict with the Kurds.

The attacks against the Kurds were never a necessary exercise of state power, nor were they a reaction to a legitimate security threat.  Instead, like most groups stuck under the thumb of a much stronger and oppressive power, there has been a clear consensus for peace and resolution through political negotiation among a wide range of the Kurdish population.  That is why it was the Kurds who supported the peace process and it was Turkey who rejected it. 

The Dolmabahce Agreement was a political framework for resolving the Kurdish issue that was negotiated in February 2015 between the HDP and the Turkish government.  Its aim was to create a long-term roadmap for peace, and for a short time it appeared highly promising.  On February 28th, 2015 Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Interior, and three deputies of the HDP announced the agreement in a joint-statement at Istanbul’s Dolmabahce Palace.  However, following the HDP victory and the AKP defeat in the July elections, Erdogan backtracked and rejected the deal. 

When rejecting the Agreement, Erdogan argued that it was invalid because it did not originate in parliament, and such an agreement only has legitimacy through congressional authority.  Therefore he told reporters on July 17th that he did not “recognize the phrase ‘Dolmabahce Agreement,’” and effectively buried the deal.  The underlying reason was thus apparent: the inroads the HDP achieved within parliament increased their prospects of being able to use their rising political influence to push for peace through official parliamentary channels.  This, combined with the agreed-upon roadmap for peace that Dolmabahce represented, made the possibility of a peaceful settlement all too probable, and Erdogan had no intentions of sharing power.

The strategy was to reject negotiations and use violence and war to both attack the Kurds militarily while as well rallying votes throughout the country by exploiting nationalistic and xenophobic sentiments, thereby regaining a parliamentary majority.  A state of fear brought on by violence and conflict, coupled with the scapegoating of the problem on Kurdish ‘terrorists’, was used to rally the public under the AKP banner of “security” and “stability.”

As Professor Ugur explains it, “The political objective was to ensure the continuity of AKP rule, preferably with a large majority required to change the constitution and institute Mr Erdogan as a president with no checks and balances… Given these liabilities and the risk of failure to win a majority in the snap elections in November, the AKP government has initiated the process of state-orchestrated violence,” against the Kurds.

The strategy proved highly successful.

Strategy of Tension, Violence, and Aftermath

When ISIS began assaulting the Kurdish town of Kobani in 2014 Kurdish militias rose up to defend it, yet Turkey and Erdogan were silent. 

When the town looked poised to be defeated, Erdogan’s position of abandonment was made clear when he simply concluded of the situation that “Kobani is about to fall.” 

It was clear that he saw the ISIS attack as an opportunity rather than a threat.  The likely chance of being barbarically subjugated by ISIS was used to leverage demands from the Kurds. 

When the leader of the Kurdish PYD came to Turkish military intelligence to plead for aid, he was told he would only receive it if the Kurds surrendered: they were told they needed to give up their claim for self-determination, give up the localities they governed, and agree to a Turkish buffer zone in Syria.

The Kurds refused.

However, it is not as if Turkey had simply been sitting on the sidelines while refusing to intervene: they had been intimately involved in supporting the Islamic State, most ostensibly by securing their free passage into Syria through the Turkish border but as well through direct contact with ISIS members, coordinating arms transports, providing them a safe haven inside Turkish territory, and by transporting their fighters across the border into the warzone.  Reports would later surface that they were hospitalizing wounded ISIS fighters, and that sarin precursors were smuggled into ISIS-held areas with the help of Turkish authorities. (See part 1)  Just days prior to these events Vice President Biden told Harvard University students that it was the Turks, Saudis, and the UAE who had “poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

Turkey was using the threat posed by the terrorist proxies they had fomented to force the Kurds to capitulate, and absent that capitulation would gladly see Kurdish towns overrun by their ISIS allies. 

As the ISIS proxies assaulted the Kurdish village, Turkish aircraft used the opportunity to bomb Kurdish positions inside Turkey for the first time in two years.  Yet an ISIS victory in Kobani would have been a humiliating defeat for the newly formed “anti-ISIS” coalition, and would have routed a key potential ally in the region for the Americans.  Therefore, under heavy pressure from the US, Erdogan finally allowed a contingent of Iraqi Peshmerga fighters to cross into Kobani from Turkish territory, and with further support from the US air force the Kurds were able to repel the ISIS attack.

Yet come June 2015, directly after the AKP’s electoral defeat, car bombs exploded at the Kobani border and convoys of cars carrying up to 40 ISIS fighters again attacked the Kurdish village simultaneously from three sides.

Kurdish witnesses said that the jihadis crossed into the city from the Turkish border, “If they entered from the Syrian side, they would have first come up many more important targets related to the YPG (the Kurdish militia), such as the main headquarters building where there are tens of fighters and leaders, or the local administration HQ,” a Kurdish activist said.  He noted that it was extremely unlikely they would have been able to pass by these obstacles unnoticed, and therefore the attack must have originated from Turkey.

If not in some way orchestrated or tacitly supported by Turkey, the attacks then represent a generous gift to Erdogan from old allies.

The situation escalated in July when a suicide bombing, of which ISIS claimed responsibility for, killed 32 and wounded another 104 in the Turkish town of Suruc.  The victims were pro-Kurdish university-aged students who were holding a press conference on their planned trip to help reconstruct Kobani.  It was theorized that the attacks could have been in retaliation for increasing measures that Turkey had been taking to clamp down on the jihadis.  Yet if so, how would attacking Turkey’s main domestic enemies constitute a retaliation?  Furthermore, the clamp down was only symbolic, used to portray the image that Turkey was getting tough on ISIS while not taking any substantial steps against them.  Following the events, in an interview with a Turkish journalist an ISIS commander denied there being any conflict with Turkey

The Kurdish PKK for their part blamed the Turkish authorities and accused them of collusion with ISIS.  In response they claimed responsibility for the killing of two Turkish police officers they said were responsible for the attacks.  Given the fact that just a year ago secret audio recordings were leaked of Turkey’s prime minister and the head of the secret service planning a false flag attack against Turkey as a pretext to invade Syria, there is a high probability that Turkey was in some way complicit.  

Further supporting this is the fact that the attacks were then utilized as the pretext for Turkey to enter into the “anti-ISIS” coalition, a guise used to initiate a war against the Kurds.

In the days that followed Turkey agreed to a deal with the US allowing them to use their Incirlik air base to fly bombing missions against the Islamic State.  The ostensible terms of the deal were that Turkey would let the US use their base, and Turkey would itself enter the fight against ISIS.  However, the actual terms were likely that the US had agreed in some form to Turkey’s longstanding demands to set up a “no-fly zone” inside Syria, which in practice was a plan to annex Syrian land and to attack Syria’s air-defenses.  Also very likely was that the US agreed to sell out the Kurds by acquiescing to the fact that Turkey’s attacks against ISIS would in actuality just be a cover for waging a war against them.

With the deal firmly in place the Turkish air force thus “initiated the process of state-orchestrated violence” by launching airstrikes against the Kurds and ISIS, except those against ISIS were only symbolic. 

The operation began on July 24th, yet after July 25th airstrikes were only continued against the Kurds, including those in Iraq and Syria.  In conjunction a large-scale domestic operation billed as an “anti-terror” crackdown was initiated.  Under the guise of going after ISIS Turkish police conducted massive raids against the Kurds and arrested over 1,000 people it labelled as terrorists.  According to one HDP member, of those arrested 80% were Kurdish.

Following this Turkey continued to relentlessly and murderously attack Kurdish villages.  They have imposed arbitrary, round-the-clock curfews of entire neighborhoods which the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights describes as a “massive restriction of some of the most fundamental human rights of a huge population” that does not “satisfy the criteria of proportionality and necessity in a democratic society.”  The assault includes artillery shelling in densely populated civilian areas, disconnection of water and electricity to entire towns, denying the victims access to medical treatment, preventing burials, and abusive and disproportionate force against any and all peaceful protests that dissent against the atrocities.  Turkish military operations “had killed hundreds of civilians, displaced hundreds of thousands and caused massive destruction in residential areas.”

The irony of all of this should not be lost: Turkey has been supporting the ISIS terror organization which has repeatedly attacked his domestic enemy, the Kurds.  Turkey has then used the terrorists as a justification to wage his own war against the Kurds, while further exploiting the terrorism and the instability as a means to gain political power for himself and his party.

On October 10, 2015 Turkey witnessed the deadliest terror attack ever in the country's modern history, carried out by two suspected Islamic State suicide bombers.  The attack effectively shepherded Erdogan and the AKP back into a parliamentary victory.  In the climate of fear that followed, couple with the violence and chaos from the war with the Kurds, Erdogan’s AKP made a resounding comeback in the elections the following month in November.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, Erdogan’s AKP “regained sole control of Parliament as millions of voters who had been disillusioned with the party returned in force.”  “Pro-Kurdish parties lost significant ground” as “the AKP’s rise drained votes from the… HDP.”  Erdogan would now have “a clear mandate to press ahead with the military campaign against Kurdish separatists.” 

The remarkable turnaround came “amid a deteriorating security situation that had made terrorism a top concern for voters. In the weeks leading up to the vote, Turkish televisions were filled with grim images of deadly attacks carried out by suspected Islamic State bombers, military crackdowns on Kurdish cities, and funerals for Turkish security officers killed by Kurdish fighters.

“The dangers culminated in a devastating Oct. 10 attack by two suspected Islamic State suicide bombers who killed more than 100 people at a peace rally in Turkey’s capital. The bombing, which some called “Turkey’s 9/11,” was the country’s deadliest terrorist attack, and it cemented fears that the increasingly polarized country was facing unchecked instability.”

Erdogan and the AKP then won voters over with "its message that one-party rule was the only way to fight a two-front war with Islamic State extremists and Kurdish militants.”  The message resonated “not only with nationalists who backed Mr. Erdogan’s decision to renew the country’s fight with the outlawed… PKK, but also with Kurdish residents rattled by renewed violence that had consumed their communities.”

Erdogan, while cynically supported the most extreme forms of terrorism in an attempt to overthrow the Syrian government, has utilized those same terrorists as a pretext to wage a full scale war against the Kurds, using the situation to degrade Kurdish influence and capitalize on a state of fear and war for political gain, championing himself as the answer to ‘Kurdish terrorism’ while it was his policies that reignited the violence.  Following a defeat in parliament at the hands of the Kurds, while simultaneously facing a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish issue, the orchestration of state-violence was commenced.  Further aided by some of the country’s deadliest terrorism, committed by a group that Erdogan supports, the desired outcome was realized.

“The election results show that the politics of fear and division worked,” said David L. Phillips, a former State Department adviser who now serves as director of the Peace-Building and Rights Program at Columbia University.”


The strategy of tension had succeeded.