Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark Milley | Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II, DOD, CC BY 2.0
The United States responded to the 9/11 attacks by terminating the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and quashing al-Qaida. At the time there was widespread domestic support for the action and most allied states were also in agreement, at least at first. A few analysts were more cautious and the openDemocracy view at the time was that al-Qaida wanted a war, to show how significant it was but also to trap Western forces in Afghanistan and drag the United States down in much the same way as Soviet Union had been in the 1980s.
Now, there are signs that precisely that is happening, with the Afghan government and the Taliban agreeing to an outline of how negotiations on a peace settlement might be achieved. This comes after two months of talks in Qatar that have really been between the United States and the Taliban. The main topic of the talks was the withdrawal of all uniformed US forces by next May in return for a Taliban ceasefire and a pledge from Taliban leadership that they would not allow al-Qaida or ISIS to maintain a presence in the country. Continue reading →
In the run-up to November’s US election, a sub-plot of the Trump campaign will be his claimed success at “bringing our boys back”. And indeed there will have been substantial troop withdrawals from Afghanistan as well as a more modest drawdown in Iraq, although that will still involve a reduction from 5,200 to 3,500.
Some of the Iraqi changes are redeployments to neighbouring states but there has certainly been an overall decrease in Afghanistan, even if few figures are available about the thousands of private security personnel operating under various government contracts. Continue reading →
From the moment Trump ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from Syria, Turkey wasted no time in launching an invasion of northern Syria. To understand the geopolitical stakes, I asked four people close to the situation for their assessments:
Salih Muslim, is spokesperson for the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in northern Syria. Fehim Taştekin, is an analyst and journalist, based in Vienna. Agit Polat, is spokesperson for the Kurdish Democratic Council in France (CDK-F) and based in Paris. Raphaël Lebrujah, is a journalist in Qamishlo.
Destroyed house in Sanaa. Photo: brahem Qasim [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) just inked billions in deals to secure new weapons from top Pentagon contractor Raytheon a week after an Amnesty International investigation further implicated the Gulf nation in war crimes for transferring Western weapons to unaccountable militia groups, thereby deepening the humanitarian crisis and fueling carnage in war-ravaged Yemen.
“The ongoing carnage against civilians in Yemen—including at the hands of the Saudi Arabia and UAE-led coalition and the militias it backs—should give serious pause to all states supplying arms,” said Patrick Wilcken, arms control and human rights researcher at Amnesty International. “Emirati forces receive billions of dollars’ worth of arms from Western states and others, only to siphon them off to militias in Yemen that answer to no-one and are known to be committing war crimes.” Continue reading →
While SJR 54 claims to be aimed at achieving “the removal of United State Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress,” it contains a major loophole that will allow the majority of U.S. troops in Yemen – if not all – to stay.
Last week, many celebrated the advancement of Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 54, which had been introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), as a sign that the U.S. Congress was finally willing to act to reduce the U.S.’ culpability for the situation in Yemen, currently the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The bill, which will be voted on by the Senate this week, has been praised by many within the anti-war movement for its bid to “end” U.S. military involvement in Yemen. Passage of the bill would, however, do no such thing. Continue reading →
The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency inlaid in the floor of the main lobby of the Original Headquarters Building. Photo by user:Duffman (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
On Monday, President Trump tweeted birthday wishes to the Air Force and the CIA. Both became official organizations 70 years ago on September 18, 1947, with the implementation of the National Security Act of 1947.
After spending years as a wartime intelligence agency called the Office of Strategic Services, the agency was solidified as a key player in the federal government’s operations with then-President Harry Truman’s authorization. Continue reading →
Among the sponsors of the resolution put forth to block the sale was Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who argued that despite the opposition’s defeat, the effort nonetheless sent a “strong message” to Saudi Arabia. Continue reading →
Cholera patients line the halls of Yemen’s few medical facilities, less than 45 percent of which are fully functional after two years of war. (Photo: Mohammed Hamoud/IRIN News)
President Donald Trump will arrive in Saudi Arabia on Friday bearing a major arms deal for the Gulf kingdom, which observers warn will swiftly then be used against the people of Yemen, who are currently facing a deadly cholera outbreak, devastating famine, and two years of war that shows no sign of abating.
In exchange for the $110 billion package, said to be the largest arms deal in history, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has offered “to invest at least $200 billion in American infrastructure and open up new business opportunities for U.S. companies inside the kingdom,” according toAlternet‘s Max Blumenthal, a move that is expected to win the U.S. president points in the rust belt states of Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Continue reading →
Civil defense team members and people try to rescue people who were trapped under the debris of a Mosque after an aerial attack on a mosque during prayer in the Cina village of Etarib district of Aleppo, Syria on March 16, 2017. (Photo: İbrahim Ebu Leys/ Anadolu Agency )
U.S. military officials have confirmed that a U.S. aircraft struck a mosque outside of Aleppo, Syria during evening prayers on Thursday, killing dozens of civilians, in an attack that many are calling a war crime.
Airwars’ Samuel Oakford reported that U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed that a raid “took place in the vicinity of al-Jinah village, which is located in western Aleppo governorate, just a few kilometers from the border with Idlib. CENTCOM spokesperson Maj. Josh Jacques said the target was ‘assessed to be a meeting place for al Qaeda, and we took the strike.'”
Jacques added that the target “happened to be across the street from where there is a mosque.” Continue reading →
Though a number of U.S. soldiers were previously deployed to Syria under the Obama administration, the U.S. government has just sent an additional 400 troops to Syrian territory without congressional approval, without approval from the Syrian government, and without approval from the U.N.
Given the illegality of the move, the real question regarding the operation must focus on the motive. Why is the United States military, under a president who ran on a campaign of focusing less on wars abroad, sending more troops to Syrian territory? Trump supporters often argue this is to fulfill his campaign promise to defeat ISIS. Continue reading →