By Medea Benjamin for the Guardian. Donald Trump loudly criticized President Obama’s air campaign against Islamic State as “too gentle” and called for a reassessment of battlefield rules designed to protect civilians. The US military insists that the rules of engagement have not changed, but Iraqi officers have been quoted in the New York Times as saying that there has been a noticeable relaxing of the coalition’s rules of engagement since President Trump took office. President Trump has also escalated US intervention in Syria. In March, he authorized the deployment of 400 more troops to fight the Islamic State in Syria, and has upped the number of US airstrikes there. According to the UK-based organization Airwars, for the first time since Russia intervened in Syria’s civil war in 2015, US strikes in Syria are now responsible for more civilian casualties than Russian strikes. Among the most devastating incidents was a strike on a school sheltering displaced people outside Raqqa that killed at least 30 people, and an attack on a mosque in western Aleppo that killed dozens of civilians while they were attending prayers.
By Jason Ditz from Antiwar.com. As the US airstrikes in the Iraqi city of Mosul are increasingly concentrated around densely populated neighborhoods in the city’s west, the death toll from those airstrikes in spiraling rapidly out of control, with the most recent figures out of the area suggesting around 230 civilians were killed overnight in US and coalition strikes in just a single neighborhood. That’s an enormous toll, of course, but is reported from several sources telling largely the same story, including that a single US airstrike against a large building full of civilians in Mosul killed over 130 people, while the other 100 or so were killed in the surrounding area. Central Command said that they were “aware of the loss of life” and were carrying out “further investigation,” while insisting that all of their strikes against Mosul overnight “comply with the Law of Armed Conflict.”
By Mintpress News. WikiLeaks brought renewed attention to an audio recording in which Secretary of State John Kerry admits not only that he supported war in Syria for the purpose of overthrowing the government, but that the United States knew about the strength of terrorist groups in the region and allowed them to grow yet more powerful. Originally leaked to The New York Times in late September and published in its entirety by CNN shortly after, the recording is of a meeting the secretary of state had with Syrian civilians at the Dutch Mission to the United Nations in September. CNN has since removed the audio, but left a description of its contents along with an editor’s note claiming the file had been removed “at the request of some of the participants out of concern for their safety.”
By Sarah Aziza for Waging Nonviolence – Just hours after Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that the United States is preparing to launch an offensive against the Syrian city of Raqqa, Abdalaziz Alhamza, a 25-year-old Raqqa native, spoke to a New York City audience about his hometown. Before the Islamic State captured the city in 2014, he recalled, few people outside of Syria had heard of Raqqa, “but now, most people hear about our city as the capital of ISIS.”
By Nafeez Ahmed for Information Clearing House – September 18, 2016 “Information Clearing House” – “Medium” – A former senior counter-terrorism official in Turkey has blown the whistle on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s deliberate sponsorship of the Islamic State (ISIS) as a geopolitical tool to expand Turkey’s regional influence and sideline his political opponents at home. Ahmet Sait Yayla was Chief of the Counter-Terrorism and Operations Division of Turkish National Police between 2010 and 2012, before becoming Chief of the Public Order and Crime Prevention Division until 2014.
By Joshua Eaton for the Intercept. In February 2004, U.S. troops brought a man named Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badry to Abu Ghraib in Iraq and assigned him serial number US9IZ-157911CI. The prison was about to become international news, but the prisoner would remain largely unknown for the next decade. At the time the man was brought in, Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba was finalizing his report on allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib’s Hard Site — a prison building used to house detainees singled out for their alleged violence or their perceived intelligence value. Just weeks later, the first pictures of detainee abuse were published on CBS News and in the New Yorker. Today, detainee US9IZ-157911CI is better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. His presence at Abu Ghraib, a fact not previously made public, provides yet another possible key to the enigmatic leader’s biography and may shed new light on the role U.S. detention facilities played in the rise of the Islamic State.
By the United National Antiwar Committee. (August 7, 2016) The recent bombing of Libya is a continuation of the seven months long campaign of bombing carried out five years ago. At that time the U.S. and its NATO allies succeeded in destroying that country’s government and assassinating President Gaddafi. Prior to that attack, Libya was the most prosperous country in Africa, with the highest standard of living and health care, education and other social benefits for its people. Today it is a failed state, a wasteland that is bleeding refugees to Europe, Tunisia and other countries seeking to escape the horror that the U.S. and NATO have created. The most recent bombing, ostensibly to combat ISIS, will not bring security to the people of Libya, but will continue the destruction of that country and cause more civilian casualties and refugees.
By Haider Newmani for The Guardian – US and coalition military forces continue to attack Isis territories in Iraq, while Iraqi ground troops prepare to retake the city of Mosul from the grip of the terrorist group. As Isis loses ground in Iraq, it escalates its violent campaign against civilians. On Sunday, a suicide bomber attacked a security checkpoint in my home city, Baghdad, killing at least 14 people. It followed the attacks on 3 July in the same city – the city I fled to become an asylum seeker in America after losing multiple family members and friends.
By Bryan MacDonald for RT – According to statements made at last weekend’s summit in Warsaw, NATO regards Russia as a bigger threat than ISIS. Of course, that’s ludicrous but when you scratch beneath the surface, the use of these falsehoods makes perverted sense. Gleb is a Russian student in Dublin. Recently, at the request of a mutual friend, I’ve been helping him with his university thesis which focuses on the reasons Ireland is one of the few Western European countries that has resisted NATO membership. A distinction that most Irish people are extremely proud of.
By Andre Vltchek for Dissident Voice. Lebanon cannot stand on its feet, anymore. It is overwhelmed, frightened and broke. It stands on the frontline, facing the ISIS in the east and north, a hostile Israel in the south and the deep blue sea to the west. 1.5 million (mostly Syrian) refugees are dispersed all over its tiny territory. Its economy is collapsing and infrastructure crumbling. The ISIS is right at the border with Syria, literally next door, or even with one foot inside Lebanon, periodically invading, and setting up countless “dormant cells” in all Lebanese cities and all over its countryside. Hezbollah is fighting the ISIS, but the West and Saudi Arabia apparently consider Hezbollah, not the ISIS, to be the major menace to their geopolitical interests.
By Andre Vltchek for Dissident Voice – Day and night, for years, an overwhelming force has been battering this quiet nation, one of the cradles of human civilization. Hundreds of thousands have died, and millions have been forced to flee abroad or have been internally displaced. In many cities and villages, not one house is left intact. But Syria is, against all odds, still standing. During the last 3 years I worked in almost all of Syria’s perimeters, exposing the birth of ISIS in the NATO-run camps built in Turkey and Jordan.
By Matthew Johnson for Popular Resistance. Dear Westerners: Muslims and Islam are not the enemy of the West. I wish this statement was without controversy, but with the rising tide of Islamophobia (i.e. irrational fear of Muslims) in the United States and elsewhere, it is clear that it is not. There are many out there who cling tightly to the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ propaganda or otherwise insist that there is a notable difference between Islam and other religions, Muslims and the rest of us, and so on. I deplore you to reject this falsehood in the spirit of the holidays and think beyond your immediate family to the human family, which includes more than a billion Muslims who are not going anywhere.
By Dennis Trainor, Jr. for Acroynm TV. Dennis Trainor, Jr. or Acroynm TV takes a look back on some of the biggest stories of 2015 including what to do about the threat of ISIS abroad and what to think of the San Bernardino mass shooting at home; from the unlikely rise of a socialist Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont and the ugly reality of real estate mogul Donald Trump’s appeal; his stint working with Jill Stein, #BlackLivesMatter puts a focus on racism at universities, the cost of Manifest Destiny’s Child, American Empire, in Syria and the Middle East, what could we do without all of that spending on the military? Trainor takes a look at all of that and more in the Acronym TV 2015 year in review.
By Serina Sandhu for Independent – Organisers of an anti-Isis march in London have spoken of their frustration after mainstream media outlets failed to cover the demonstration. Thousands of people took part in the annual UK Arbaeen Procession, coordinated by the Husaini Islamic Trust UK, on Sunday. Although Shia Muslims take part in the march each year to mark the Arbaeen, or mourning, anniversary of Imam Husain – a seventh-century leader who fought for social justice – this year organisers decided to use the event as a platform to denounce terrorism following the recent Isis attacks in Paris, Beirut and elsewhere.