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US May Be Using NYT and Al Jazeera to Pressure Jordan on Military Intervention in Syria

Next Cold War Roundup 6/28/16

A FBI, State Department and multi-agency investigation revealed to the New York Times and Al Jazeera that Jordanian Intelligence is skimming CIA ratline weapons meant for Syrian rebels, which is an indication that the US is putting intense pressure on Jordan related to the Syrian war. Various factors are listed below. Turkey is mending fences with both Israel and Russia. US commanders are pressuring for more troops in Iraq. Germans want rapprochement with Russia. VP Biden told China that Japan could go nuclear overnight. The US might be fighting on both major sides of the war in Libya.

Jordanian Intelligence Skimming CIA Ratline Weapons for Syrian Rebels

_ An FBI  (and multi-agency, according to State Dept.) investigation revealed that weapons shipped by the CIA to Jordan, intended for Syrian rebels, were “systematically stolen by Jordanian intelligence operatives and sold to arms merchants on the black market, according to American and Jordanian officials.” Some of those same weapons were used to kill two Americans at a training facility in Amman in November, 2015. The Jordanian government denies that their intelligence operatives were involved in weapons thefts.

_ The New York Times (NYT) article goes on to reveal more details about the covert CIA program used to arm and train Syrian rebels in Jordan. They claim that the program, code named Timber Sycamore, and in cooperation with “several Arab intelligence services” began in 2013. We know that other CIA programs, like the rat line from Libya to Syria via Turkey, began long before that. The NYT article also includes a photo of VP Joe Biden, wearing a suit and a baseball cap, at one of the training centers in Jordan. The CIA purchased the weapons in Balkan countries and eastern Europe. More details about all the countries funneling weapons into Syria are also revealed.

_ “Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the United States has flooded Jordan with money for various counterterrorism programs […] and a secret prison in Jordan housed prisoners the C.I.A. captured in the region.” George Tenet told Bob Woodward: “We created the Jordanian intelligence service, and now we own it.”

_ An interesting story overall and one that feels like there is some other reason for the story, other than reporting details of the FBI investigation on arms smuggling. Analysis by Marcy Wheeler here.

_ Benghazi is back in the news, and Benghazi has an interesting connection to this arms smuggling story given that the pre-2013 CIA operations arming and training Syrian “rebels” and running an operations room and a ratline in and through Iskenderun, Turkey. This is the part of the Benghazi story that the intrepid, investigating Republican committees never touch. The NYT story doesn’t mention the CIA-Syrian rebel operations that began long before 2013.

Why Would United States Use NYT Article to Pressure Jordan?

_ From Moon of Alabama, who wonders if the NYT story above was a way to pressure Jordan to stay in and activate the Southern Front rebel army again. Jordan wants peace.

There are doubts in Jordan that continuing the war against Syria is in its interest. A vehicle used in a recent suicide bombing against a Jordanian border station was earlier officially given to “moderate” Syrian rebels. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. Jordan can not expect anything good from a continuing war and wants to wind it down.

_ Jordan also wants peace because of the crushing burden of refugees. This has been true for years. Back in February, King Abdullah warned that Jordan was at a “boiling point” and before that Col. Wilkerson related a story about an angry member of the Jordanian royal family telling him to spread the word to his influential friends in the US that every house in Jordan is hosting refugees from Syria and Iraq, and it is not sustainable and in fact, is a destabilizing factor. The US neocon/liberal interventionist plan for intervention and overthrow of Assad would not end the war anytime soon and would likely result in even more refugees in Jordan.

_ Jordan’s deal with Russia: Another possible reason for the US pressure on Jordan, via the huge NYT expose, is that Jordan made a counterterrorism military coordination deal of some sort with the Russians, back in October. This deal was announced publicly by the foreign ministers of Jordan and Russia. The Jordanian FM said: “There are deep coordination channels between Jordan and Russia over Syria.” The deal was interesting given the immense control over Jordan by US intelligence. Back in January, Elijah Magnier and Moon of Alabama reported on how “Jordan already inspired its proxies to distance themselves from Jabhat al Nusra.”  Jordan “is Sunni-dominated and closely aligned with Washington, so Moscow’s deal with Jordan could mark a shift in the alliances engaged in the Syria conflict.

_ On Monday, the White House spokesman refused to answer questions and referred them to the State Dept. and FBI.  The State Dept. spokesman refused to answer questions other than to say there is a multi-agency investigation going on, and that’s where the information leaked to the news agencies came from. So the people behind the NYT story, presumably pressuring Jordan, are linked to the State Dept.

_ The neocon and liberal interventionists in the State Dept. are strongly pushing for US military intervention to overthrow Assad.  This same faction, led by Hillary Clinton’s likely defense secretary, Michele Flournoy, just rolled out a plan, “Defeating Islamic State: A Bottom-Up Approach” for military intervention in Syria. The plan heavily depends on the “Southern Front” which is based in Jordan.

Flournoy talked about one of the US-proxy forces, the Southern Front, currently located in southwest Syria near the border of Syria, Jordan and Israel.  She said they are 30,000 strong and claims they were formed from 40-50 “relatively more moderate” Syrian groups and trained by the US and Jordan.

_ The Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army, based in Jordan and southwest Syria, is the centerpiece of the neocon/liberal interventionist plan for overthrowing Assad.

_ Back in August, 2013, at a time when US military intervention in Syria was believed to be a done deal and the ouster of Assad imminent, an Israeli hardliner laid out “the case for regime change in Jordan” where they argue that Jordan is Palestine and the West Bank is Israel, and military force should be used to push the ruling Hashemites out and Jordan should be made into an independent Palestinian state, leaving Judea and Samaria to the Israelis. It’s an op-ed but not an outlier point of view.

“Therefore, only regime change in Jordan and the departure of the Hashemites can resolve the claim of the approximately 14 million people who call themselves Palestinians for an independent state. If the international community genuinely wants to establish a viable Palestinian state, it is incumbent upon it to recognize de jure the de facto Palestinian State of Jordan.”

“It is reported that Abdullah has a plane full of gold in the compound of his palace, on the ready, just in case. May it be sooner rather than later!”

NATO May Be Strengthened by Brexit

_ Marcy Wheeler cites Jens Stoltenberg and Adm. Stavridis and provides some analysis (especially related to data sharing and intelligence/surveillance) why an implemented Brexit might strengthen NATO’s hand, and even the threat of genuine Brexit may cause the EU to retreat from from their hardline positions.

Turkey and Israel Reached Agreement

_ “Turkey & Israel reached agreement to normalize bilateral relations on Sunday in Rome, says senior Turkish official.”

War Crimes Lawsuit Filed Against Erdogan

_ German lawmakers, activists and celebrities filed a civil lawsuit against Turkish president Erdogan and former Prime Minister Davutoglu war crimes against the Kurds. “The main aim of the complaint was to raise public awareness about crimes against Turkey’s minority Kurds.”

Erdogan Apologized to Russia for Death of Russian Pilot

_ In a letter from Erdogan to the Kremlin: “I want to once again express my sympathy and deep condolences to the family of the Russian pilot who died and I say: ‘I’m sorry.”  Turkey’s foreign minister will go to Russia on July 1 for an economic summit and Turkey has expressed a willingness to help fight terrorism in the region. Turkey is trying to normalize relations with Russia after downing a Russian fighter jet which resulted in sanctions against Turkey that resulted in serious economic damage.

Iraq Escalation

_ US commanders “pushing hard for ‘dramatically’ more ground troops” in Iraq. There are now about 5,000 US troops in Iraq and thousands of contractors.  An anonymous official said “there is a sense of urgency in prosecuting the war that comes directly from the president, but that large increases of U.S. troops in Iraq carry political risk for the Iraqi government.” Originally the Iraqi government did not want any US troops in Iraq. The military intervention plan backed by likely future defense secretary Michele Flournoy calls for 10-20,000 US troops in Iraq.

Biden Told China that Japan Could Go Nuclear Overnight

_ Biden related a story on PBS about how he threatened Chinese President Xi that if China doesn’t rein in North Korea we’ll move our defense system and Japan might get nuclear weapons “virtually overnight.”

“And I say, so we’re going to move up our defense system, and he says no, no, no, wait a minute, my military thinks you’re going to try to circle us. I said, ‘What would you do? What would you do? Do you think we should stand back?'” he said. “And what happens, what happens if we don’t work out something together on North Korea? What happens if Japan, who could tomorrow, could go nuclear tomorrow? They have the capacity to do it virtually overnight.”

German Poll Shows Popular Support for Rapprochement With Russia

Syrian Oil

_ Nafeez Ahmed cites a 2011 study that talked about the “significant ‘hydrocarbon potential’ of Syria’s offshore resources and how western firms  are “primed to cash in on Syria’s oil and gas ‘frontier”.

US Fighting on Both Sides of War in Libya?

_ US AFRICOM commander told Congress he wants to bomb Libya during his confirmation hearing and that planners are “drafting up battle plans for airstrikes against Islamic State targets” there.

_ “British forces have based themselves in a French-led multinational military operations centre in Benghazi supporting renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar, according to reports in Arabic media and sources within Libya.” Another perplexing detail is that there are some US marines at this base as well, which would put the US on both (major) sides of the war in Libya

Batchelor & Cohen Radio Show

_ Last week’s radio segment with John Batchelor and Stephen Cohen focuses on the State Dept. “dissent cable,” Syria, NATO, Russia. Batchelor said we now “have a place for the third world war between Russia and the United States to begin. It is called the Suwalki Gap. I am not making this up. It is 60 miles of a border that touches between Belarus, across Poland, to Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea. That 60 miles is the way for Poland and NATO to connect to Lithuania. The presumption here, and there’s an item up in the Washington Post, (again we can believe this is from NATO’s communications dept.) they ‘re looking to identify how vulnerable the Baltic states are to the Russians launching snap exercises in Kaliningrad and Belarus, to cut off the Baltic states from reinforcement from Poland.”

_ Cohen says that with the “way American policy seems to be deliberately trying to provoke Russia into a war, an actual war, and the way it has refused to cooperate with Russia on very good proposals [in Syria], at least hypothetically we could raise the question whether or not the United States, American policy,  run by this bipartisan, Democratic and Republican, male/female elite, has become the number one existential threat in the world.” He says that the reality is that Obama acted on State Dept. “dissent cable” plan to attack Syria it would almost certainly lead to an air war with Russia and minorities in Syria would be ethnically cleansed by extremist rebels, and it would be “something approaching world war.” He said dissenters are usually honorable but these dissenters are pushing for a really bad deed.

New Documentary on Neoconservative War Agenda

_ Part 3 of Robbie Martin’s trilogy documentary series, “A Very Heavy Agenda Part 3: Maintaining World Order” was released this week.  The film can be viewed online or purchased on DVD.

“Post-9/11, the War on Terror had outlived its usefulness. The minds behind the think tanks that drive America’s interventionist foreign policy decided that the U.S. needed a new enemy, so they chose an old one — Russia.”

Part 3 places a special focus on the Kagans and their “family business of perpetual war.” The documentary series is especially relevant right now as the allied neoconservative and liberal intervention factions are expected to regain control of American foreign policy if a Hillary Clinton administration prevails. I recommend this documentary because of its brilliant, Adam Curtis-like use of archival film and print, its masterful compilation with important dots connected, and because it is one of the most important documentaries in circulation at the moment with relevance to the extremely dangerous drumbeat and buildup to major war. Here are the trailers for the first two parts of the trilogy as well: “A Very Heavy Agenda Part 1: A Catalyzing Event,” and “A Very Heavy Agenda Part 2 : How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New Neocons.”

Analysis and Opinion

_ Podcast with Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations: “Bargaining and Military Coercion: A Conversation with Todd Sechser

_ John Helmer, independent foreign correspondent in Russia: “US Strategy for Russia — Wage War but Not Declare it

_ Tariq Ali interviews Seymour Hersh, early June: “Global Empire — The World According to Seymour Hersh.” (Part Two is here)

Still from TeleSur broadcast of clash between Mexico police and striking Oxaca teachers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PYsQtz7jMM
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Joanne Leon

Joanne Leon

Joanne is a blogger with focus on issues of war and peace, a mom, engineer, software developer and amateur photographer.