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Amnesty Reported War Crimes by Syrian Rebels Backed by US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey

Next Cold War Roundup 7/5/16

Amnesty International published an extensive report of war crimes by Syrian rebels in Aleppo and Idlib. The rebel groups are backed by the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. The Pope called out countries who call for peace but arm the warring parties. Canada is sending troops to join the controversial NATO brigades on the Russian border. A massive suicide attack on a crowded Ramadan market in central Baghdad caused hundreds of deaths and injuries, and massive destruction. Iraqi officials are under intense pressure. Three separate bomb attacks happened in Saudi Arabia by unknown actors, including one near one of the holiest Muslim sites in Medina. 25,000 personnel from 27 nations are involved in the RIMPAC naval exercise, conducted through the month of July.

Amnesty International Report on War Crimes by Syrian Rebels Backed by US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey

_ A 35 page report, “Abductions, Torture and Summary Killings Under Armed Group Rule in Aleppo and Idleb, Syria” by Amnesty International was released on July 5, 2016. A news article about the report was issued at the same time: “Syria: Abductions, torture and summary killings at the hands of armed groups.” Amnesty notes that these groups are backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and the United States.

“The briefing features abuses committed by five armed groups which have exercised control over parts of the governorates of Aleppo and Idleb since 2012. They include the Nour al-Dine Zinki Movement, al-Shamia Front and Division 16 [Free Syrian Army], which joined the Aleppo Conquest coalition of armed groups (also known as Fatah Halab) in 2015. They also include Jabhat al-Nusra and the Ahrar al-Sham Islamic Movement in Idleb, which both joined the Army of Conquest coalition, similarly in 2015.” [Emphasis added]

_ 24 cases of abduction, five cases of torture are documented in this briefing. Torture was used for forced confessions in Sharia “law courts established by the Syrian “rebels”. Humanitarian aid workers, peaceful activists, minorities and children were targeted. Numerous first-hand accounts from individuals are documented.

_ “Bassel”, a lawyer in Idlib said he was happy to be free from the “Syrian government’s unjust rule, but now the situation is worse” under al Nusra.

“’I was happy to be free from the Syrian government’s unjust rule but now the situation is worse. I publicly criticized Jabhat al-Nusra on Facebook… The next morning Jabhat al-Nusra forces took me from my home,’ he said.”

_ Philip Luther, director of Amnesty’s programme in the Middle East and North Africa said that the US and Russia must prioritize the detention by Syrian government forces and abduction by the Syrian rebel groups in the Geneva talks and calls on the UN Security Council to use targeted sanctions on the “leaders of armed groups who are responsible for war crimes.”

Philip Luther: “While some civilians in areas controlled by armed opposition groups may at first have welcomed an escape from brutal Syrian government rule, hopes that these armed groups would respect rights have faded as they have increasingly taken the law into their own hands and committed serious abuses.”

Pope Francis Lashed Out Against Hypocrites Who Call for Peace and Supply Arms in Syria

_ Pope Francis said this at a charity event for Syria: “While the people suffer, incredible quantities of money are being spent to supply weapons to fighters. And some of the countries supplying these arms are also among those that talk of peace.”

ISIS Attack in Baghdad Karradah neighborhood

_ Horrific marketplace suicide bombing attack in Baghdad’s Karradah (Karada) neighborhood on Sunday, a Shia neighborhood in central Baghdad, killing 175-200+. The marketplace was crowded and celebrating Ramadan. Iraq’s interior minister offered his resignation over the government’s failure to have a “different array of security forces work under a unified plan in Baghdad.” He called for security to be completely under the Interior Ministry.  Right now it is split between the army, federal and local police.” As with all market bombings, many of the victims were women and children.

_ “The suicide car bombing, which ripped through a crowded shopping area and sparked infernos in nearby buildings, also wounded more than 200 people, security and medical officials told AFP on Monday.” ISIS claims to have targeted Shiites with this attack.  Iraqi prime minister Abadi went to the attack site during the rescue effort and was chased away with rocks and an angry group of people.  Different sources claim this attack will go down as the largest of the year, or even longer.

_ As Iraqi forces defeat ISIS and push them out of Iraq, ISIS retaliates against Iraqi citizens. In addition to the tremendous loss of life, and the injuries suffered, drone footage shows the devastating destruction caused by the attack.

3 Suicide Attacks in Saudi Arabia, Including Near Prophet’s Tomb

_ On Monday there were three separate suicide attacks attempted in Saudia Arabia. One  attack in a car park near the Prophet’s Mosque, site of the prophet’s tomb, one of holiest Muslim sites in Medina. Four guards were killed. A second attack happened near the US consulate in Jeddah where a Pakistani expat “detonated his explosives prematurely after drawing attention from security officials.” The third attack happened in the city of Qatif. No terrorist group has claimed credit for the attacks yet.

Oil Merger in Libya May Unite the Country

_ A merger between the two major oil producers in Libya may lead to a political breakthrough. “Libyan officials said over the weekend that two rival oil companies have decided to merge in what could be a major political breakthrough.” So was it all about the oil all along? “The head of the National Oil Company will lead the merged company with the chief of the eastern company set to become a board member. In addition, the newly merged company would relocate to Benghazi, a city in the eastern part of the country.” Presumably the foreign countries on the two major sides of the battle came to an agreement about Libya’s oil.

_ The agreement is still pending agreement from the parliaments in the east and west of Libya.  Revenues will be shared evenly “for now“.

_ The new oil company in eastern Libya could produce oil but couldn’t export it, and was crippled by the UN and foreign governments. “Authorities in the east tried and failed in April to sell crude independently. A tanker was forced to return with its cargo after Malta’s government refused to let the vessel dock and the UN added the shipment to its sanctions list.”

_ The prime minister in eastern Libya still says the UN is trying to impose an “unworkable” unity government on the country.

Imagine WMDs

_ A month in advance of the Chilcot Report release, Tony Blair’s crisis management PR team had already started broadcasting his response and defense.  Since there were no WMDs, Blair is will ask you to imagine them. The Guardian and Patrick Wintour faithfully published Blair’s “expected” response a month in advance.

“Tony Blair is expected to defend his decision to join in the invasion of Iraq by asking his critics to think through the consequences for stability in the Middle East had Saddam Hussein been left in power, capable of developing weapons of mass destruction.”

Canada Sends Troops to Russia’s Border

_ Is Canada, despite having recently elected a self-proclaimed peace loving prime minister, the world’s newest warmonger?

_ It looks like Canada’s troops will be on the Russian border indefinitely. “NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg applauded Canada’s decision to contribute land troops to a small force aimed at deterring Russia in Eastern Europe, a commitment that he describes as ‘open-ended.'” Canada will lead one of NATO’s four high-readiness battalions and will likely be stationed in Latvia.


_ RIMPAC is the “Rim of the Pacific” biennial naval exercise, the “world’s largest international maritime exercise.” This year it will be conducted from June 30 – Aug. 4 and involves “27 nations, 45 ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel.”

US Compensated for Boy Killed by Samantha Power’s Motorcade

_ The US compensated the family of a 7-year old boy killed by Samantha Power’s speeding motorcade in Cameroon hit and killed him. In April, her motorcade was traveling at 60 mph or faster as villagers lined the streets to greet her.  A young boy was distracted by a helicopter above and darted onto the road and was hit by an armored jeep, which stopped momentarily but was told to keep moving by American security forces. The US gave the boy’s family $1,700, food stuffs and two cows, and promised to provide a well for his family’s community.

US Military Bases Abroad

_ Ben Norton notes some facts about foreign military bases:

  • US has about 800 foreign military bases
  • Other countries combined about about 30 foreign military bases
  • US has 95% of world’s foreign military bases
  • US troops or other military personnel in about 160 countries or territories
  • There are 193 states in the UN
Joanne Leon

Joanne Leon

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