Grasping the Motives for Terror

The Paris terror attacks particularly the methodical shooting of unarmed civilians have shocked the world and generated new tough talk from policymakers. But the West cannot ignore how some of its violent policy prescriptions over the past 35 years have contributed to the crisis, writes James Paul.

By James Paul

As we mourn the many killed in Paris by the terror attacks of Nov. 13, we may be tempted to react mainly with anger and outrage and to rally around the Western governments in their “war” against the Islamic jihadists. But if we want to live in a world free of terror, we must do more than react blindly in support of widened Western military campaigns, air strikes, drone attacks, secret operations, assassinations, destabilization campaigns, secret prisons and all the apparatus of official violence.

We must ask honestly and fairly: what is the Western responsibility for these horrible attacks on our cities and our people? Can there be, in our governments’ actions over the years, causes that would motivate and set in motion such horror? And what might be an alternative?

Aftermath of the U.S. destruction of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. (Graphic credit: RT)

Aftermath of the U.S. destruction of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. (Graphic credit: RT)

There is, of course, a considerable responsibility that even Western security experts acknowledge. And unless we do something to bring those policies to an end, we can expect more terror and more suffering, both here and in the war-torn lands of the Middle East (and beyond). The history is clear.

First of all, we should consider the many wars of Israel, supported by Washington and other Western governments, wars that have caused great suffering and aroused enormous anger in the region. Then, there are the decades of warfare in Afghanistan, where Washington and its partners funded and armed Islamic fundamentalists (the “mujahedeen”) beginning in 1979. The war to control Afghanistan has raged almost continuously ever since.

U.S. troops in Afghanistan man a checkpoint near Takhteh Pol in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Feb. 26, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann)

U.S. troops in Afghanistan man a checkpoint near Takhteh Pol in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Feb. 26, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann)

Another brutal conflict, the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88, was notorious for its wholesale violence. Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator who was then a friend of Washington, began the hostilities and fought Iran with a hefty flow of arms and military intelligence from Western suppliers. Ninety U.S. Air Force target specialists worked inside the Iraqi defense headquarters to help with aerial targeting, including chemical weapon attacks on Iranian cities. The war left at least a half-million dead and vast destruction.

In 2003, the U.S. (in partnership with the United Kingdom) attacked Iraq, seeking regime change from the former ally Saddam Hussein. Washington stayed for eight years until 2011, creating fiendish Islamic militias as part of a vicious counter-insurgency program created by much-admired U.S. General David Petraeus and later turned into doctrine at the Harvard Kennedy School.

There was round-the-clock bombing, huge prison camps, torture and ongoing military operations throughout the country, leading to a tremendous loss of life among Iraqis (more than a million perished) and complete destabilization of the country.

In 2011, the U.S. and various allies, intervened again, this time in Libya, using air strikes and special operations forces to produce  another “regime change.” The CIA and its Persian Gulf friends armed Islamic militias opposed to the Gaddafi government, while U.S. and allied air forces bombed the capital and other cities, overthrowing the government and creating internal violence and political chaos that continues down to the present.

In short order, Washington again intervened in Syria in yet another “regime change” project. A peaceful Arab Spring protest was transformed by the Western powers and their regional allies as they armed and financed rebel groups (including Islamic groups). Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other regional allies had a hand in the conflict.

Four years later, the country is now in chaos and torn by a terrible civil war with hundreds of thousands of casualties, four million refugees and most cities in ruins. From the chaos of Iraq and Syria has emerged Daesh (also known as Islamic State, ISIS and ISIL), an Islamic movement that has seized territory and won adherents against the West.

Western governments justified their many military operations on the basis of supposed “moral” arguments. Today, as internal documents come to light, we can see that the leaders’ motivations were hardly innocent (control of an oil-rich region loomed large) and arguments they presented to the public were patently fabricated.

In spite of claims to moral leadership, Western countries disregarded the cost of these conflicts to the people in the region. During the sanctions phase of the Iraq conflict (1990-2003), for example, more than half a million children died according to the UN. When asked on U.S. national television about this death toll, Madeleine, who would soon become Secretary of State, said that to achieve U.S. goals the price in children’s deaths was “worth it.”

Climate change has worsened the effects of war in the region, as drought has ravaged the countryside, shrunk the food supply and depopulated rural areas. Syria was particularly hard hit, accelerating the shift to civil war as unemployed young men were recruited with foreign money into armed rebel militias.

The World Trade Center's Twin Towers burning on 9/11. (Photo credit: National Park Service)

The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers burning on 9/11. (Photo credit: National Park Service)

Thousands of foreign fighters, mostly jihadis, came from Afghanistan, Iraq and other war zones as well as Saudi Arabia. Previously a secular society with ethnic and religious diversity, Syria was transformed into an inferno of religious intolerance.

Millions of Syrian refugees now live in camps. In Turkey alone there are more than two million with a million more in Lebanon. Incredibly, in mid-year, the rich Western countries failed to fund adequately the UN’s Syrian refugee assistance program, forcing cuts in food and medical allowances and leaving millions of people utterly desperate.

Many were ready to risk death to find their way to survival in the European Union. These anguished and traumatized people are prime recruitment targets for terrorist groups. Recruitment also takes place among disaffected Muslim youth in the Western countries themselves.

Such facts are well-known to the top-level Western policymakers, but the same policies continue, irrespective of the costs. There are two famous official assessments that connect the dots. They came from Sir David Omand, Security and Intelligence Coordinator in the British Cabinet Office, and separately from Eliza Manningham-Buller the head of MI5, the British secret security service.

The MI5 chief wrote a secret memorandum to Prime Minister Tony Blair and she later said in public testimony that British involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq had “radicalized a whole generation of young people” of Islamic background and greatly increased the threat of terrorism within the UK.

The terror attack in the London underground of July 7, 2005, which killed 77 people, was soon to show the accuracy of the predictions of the intelligence chiefs. Though the Prime Minister had approved a doubling of the budget (and a doubling of personnel) of the British counter-terrorism program, such measures were not able protect the people of London riding innocently on the underground.

Manningham-Buller also spoke within the government against the use of torture, arguing that it, too, would lead to public outrage in the Middle East and provide a source of terror recruitment as well it did.

The French government, like its British counterpart, has taken a hard line in these events at home and in the Middle East, coordinating its policy closely with Washington. The Paris authorities have largely ignored their large Muslim population, consequently France is increasingly vulnerable to terror cells in the underprivileged and resentful Muslim neighborhoods.

France was one of the first countries to join airstrikes against Libya in 2011 and, as the former colonial power in Syria, it has been closely involved in clandestine operations and regime change maneuvers in the Syria conflict. France began bombing Daesh targets in Iraq in late 2014 and it widened its bombing to eastern Syria in September 2015. At least one of the Nov. 13 terrorists shouted that the attack was a reprisal for France’s role in Syria.

Islamic terrorists prepare to execute a wounded policeman after their attack on the offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, 2015.

Islamic terrorists prepare to execute a wounded policeman after their attack on the offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, 2015.

The assault was the second major terror operation in France this year (the massacre at the office of Charlie Hebdo took place in January). Confronted with these attacks, the French government is keen to show its determination and to prove its military mettle.

As it intensifies its attacks on the enemy, it has not recognized the threat of its own making. In the wake of the terror attacks, the government has announced intensified bombings against Daesh in Syria and tough new security rules at home. President Hollande has decreed a State of Emergency and closed the borders. These are desperate measures that are unlikely to succeed. Nor will the U.S. be safe.

The evidence is clear. Decades of violent Western policies in the Middle East have caused state collapse, political chaos, civil war and immense human suffering. These policies must change if the terror threat is to decline and the peoples of the region are to enjoy a decent life again.

We can and must reject utterly the terrorist attacks, but we must also reject the Western violence to which they respond. As the chickens come home to roost, Western publics must wake up and demand a peaceful policy path, if they are to avoid more suffering themselves and live in harmony with their neighbors.

Author of Syria Unmasked, James Paul was executive director of Global Policy Forum, a think tank that monitors the UN. He also wrote The Crisis of Regime Change Refugees.]  

31 comments for “Grasping the Motives for Terror

  1. Abe
    November 17, 2015 at 15:33

    On Thursday evening, two ISIS operatives, whose identities are still unknown, exploded themselves in a crowded marketplace in the Bourj al-Barajneh neighborhood of Beirut, killing 44 and injuring more than 200 others in the worst terrorist attack the city has seen in years.

    Although the terrorist group behind the attacks in Paris and Beirut was the same, the Western media narrative has been vastly different. In Paris, ISIS attacked the city’s progressive youth, massacring dozens enjoying their night out at a concert, a soccer game and a restaurant. In Beirut, ISIS struck a “Hezbollah stronghold” in the “southern suburbs of Beirut,” a poor, majority Shia area often characterized as a bastion of terrorism in the region. The attack was portrayed as little more than strategic punishment for Hezbollah’s ongoing involvement in the Syrian civil war and support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

    Most media did not mention that, while Bourj al-Barajneh is located in the southern suburbs of Beirut, and does, like many traditionally Palestinian refugee camps, have a Hezbollah presence, it is also a diverse neighborhood, full of Lebanese, Palestinians and Syrians with a variety of political and religious affiliations. The attackers that exploded themselves in the crowded marketplace intended to massacre as many civilians as possible, taking with them men, women, children, students and older people of all faiths and backgrounds. One of the casualties was a Lebanese-American woman who was visiting for just a few days from Dearborn, Michigan, hoping to bring some of her family back to the United States.

    But when the blasts went off in Beirut, there was no “safety check” on Facebook for Lebanese — or Syrians or Palestinians — living in Bourj al-Barajneh. No world leader called it an “attack on all of humanity.” There were no visible solidarity demonstrations, showing support and compassion for those who lost their lives.

    Needless to say, the Empire State Building did not project a cedar tree — the iconic symbol of the Lebanese flag — over the New York City skyline.

    It is scientifically proven, and emotionally understandable, that a small tragedy in one’s own backyard elicits more grief than a global catastrophe on the other side of the world. But in the case of Paris and Beirut, it’s perplexing why one is worthy of collective grief and mourning, while the other is not.

    Why is violence in one part of the world barely worthy of news coverage, while violence in another collectively mourned?

    Is it because bombs and violence are considered routine in the Middle East, but not in Europe?

    Not Just Paris: Why Is Beirut’s Brutal Terrorist Attack Being Ignored?f
    By Anna Lekas Miller

    • Jerry
      November 17, 2015 at 22:21

      Abe, thank you for doing so much for us readers. It is much appreciated.

  2. Abe
    November 17, 2015 at 14:16

    the United States […] perceives a strong united Europe as a growing rival. Especially if one is to take into consideration the rapidly increasing military and political power of Russia and China, there can be way too much competition for the US. Moreover, the leaders of the EU – namely France and Germany – have started drifting towards Russia’s position on the crisis in Ukraine, which challenges Washington’s posture in this conflict.

    The times of Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder, who had dared to challenge America on Iraq in 2003, are long gone now. The US needs the EU to remain weakened and terrified, in desperate need of “protection” provided by the United States against all threats, real and imaginary, be it international terrorism or “aggressive” Russia. So politically, the US only benefits from the terrorist attacks in Paris.

    Although, it’s highly unlikely that the UK would be directly organizing such attacks. This would be way too much. But it doesn’t prevent British security services from helping a friendly state, such as Qatar, to plan a similar attack, especially when this planning can be made by retired agents that have no direct connections with MI6.

    And there’s one more important point. The way this attack was carried out is different from all previous terrorist attacks carried out by ISIL. The Islamic State usually employs cars packed with explosives and suicide bombers to intimidate its rivals. And in Paris we’ve witnessed hostage-taking and gunfire. Clearly, a different modus operandi. Someone has invested a lot of training into these terrorists , perhaps in the training camps in Turkey, Jordan, Syria or Iraq. And those instructing them have obviously been professionals familiar with the details of the Dubrovka Theater Siege in Moscow.

    There is no way the terrorists could pull out a similar attack in Germany, where the security system is much tougher and effective, and if they targeted Spain or Italy the attack wouldn’t hold even half as much impact, since those states are not permanent members of the UN Security Council. Additionally, Francois Hollande cannot be considered to be a strong leader, even though he has been entrusted with a very influential country to lead.

    It’s more than unlikely that the investigation into the terrorist attacks in Paris will provide us with answers as to who was behind this tragic event. However, what is important is that they have ultimately achieved their goal – Europe is frightened and weakened, and there’s an acceleration of the gradual disintegration of the EU. Moreover, European dependence on the US has sharply increased in the aftermath of the attack So one cannot expect the leading EU countries, including France and Germany, to change their positions over Russia and the Middle East in the foreseeable future.

    Who Could Organize the Paris Attacks?
    By Alexander Orlov

    • dahoit
      November 21, 2015 at 19:31

      Yes,it was immediate;The propaganda line ;”see what we have to deal with,Israel everyday.”(terror)
      A brand new shiny vehicle for more intervention,which brought about the event,and all preceding events,in the first place.
      But I think they went overboard,as even morons can see through the manipulation,and bs.
      We need a massive revolt against the absolute failures, all our minor minds in dealing with terror.None have ever been right in just about anything and everything.
      Oh,well,hope springs eternal.

  3. Abe
    November 17, 2015 at 01:03

    The role of the media and the messages it is sending to audiences cannot be overlooked whatsoever. If the terrorist attacks in Beirut were even mentioned, the mainstream media casually only did so. On the other hand, the mainstream media reports about the tragedy in Paris have shown concern and emotion for the attacks there. Victims in places like Baghdad, Mogadishu, Damascus, Donetsk, Tripoli, Gaza, and Sanaa do not even register as newsworthy. News channels have continuously broadcast images and reports about the violence in Paris while politicians and officials across the US Empire have begun their epithets, in the process stoking fear and saturating public opinion and emotions. Facebook even began asking users who were in Paris if they were safe by checking in, but did not provide the same service for Beirut users. Has this service even been provided once for the Baghdadis that have been plagued with consisting terrorist bombings since the illegal Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003?


    The French government and President Hollande have been supporters of Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra, and the ISIL/ISIS/DAESH/IS in one form or another. These are the groups that the French government and its allies, such as the US and Saudi Arabia, have supported with weapons, trained, and provided diplomatic and political cover for as proxies in regime change operations in the Middle East. When the same criminals and offenders act the same way in Damascus or Aleppo, their crimes are excused or overlooked. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad quickly made this point about what took place on November 13, 2015.

    President Hollande has described the attacks on Paris as a war conducted from abroad. The truth is the opposite. The source is not abroad as the French government claims. There is a connection between this violence and French foreign policy. France’s government is one of the authors of the terror that has trained, supported, and encouraged these types of activities.

    Tale of Two Cities: Why Silence When Beirut Gets Bombed but Tears for Paris?
    By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

  4. Evangelista
    November 16, 2015 at 23:27

    There appear to have been three apparent ‘terrorist’ (whatever this word compasses) attacks in Paris in 2015 (to mid-November): One, the Charlie Hebdo event. Two, the Kosher market event. Three, the 13 November multiple entertainment-venues event. I am not convinced that Da’esh/ISIL actually had anything to do with any of the three, except to opportunistically claim credit. I suspect a possibility of the same in the Russian Airliner over Egypt business, too, but am waiting for result-reports from the investigators (whether the indicated explosion’s source was external or internal, i.e., a security-missed bomb or a drone).

    The Charlie Hebdo event is clearly indicated by video evidences, and subsequent cover-and-gag actions in France, a false-flag commando-action, almost undoubtedly an Israeli or Zionist initiative: The well-distributed video showing the shooting of the policeman shows a well-trained commando doing a reflex finishing-shot in passing, a ‘beautifully-done’ perfectly executed ‘leave-no-one-to-get-up-behind-you’ commando-procedure, from a dispassionate commando-action appraisal point of view (look at the actor, not the action, the commando, not the shooting, in viewing the video-clip to see the actor is not an angry, or excited, kid with three-weeks weapons-training); Find, if you can, a copy of what I call “The Keystone-Kops” video. It is suppressed, but RT linked it immediately after the event (which link went dead), that video, shot from a window, showed one commando grand-standing while the other changed out the ammo in the weapons (not just replaced shot-out clips with new) and then showed a Paris police-car, with lights flashing, at the end of the street, which police-car’s driver, apparently anxious about the time the grand-standers were taking, finally driving up the narrow street toward the commandos, who finally get back into their car, then jump out to shoot and wave at the police-car, out of the driver’s side window of which a white-ish flag is waved; with-ish because, although the contrast is too much to permit color or positive identification on the fluttering pinch of cloth, there appear to be too many shadows, suggesting, but not evidencing, a probability of the flag having a lined motif on it. After the flag-waving and some commando waving, the police-car, which is blocking the commandos’ exit for the street being too narrow, reverses down the street and out of the street-mouth right, to let the commandos’ vehicke, which follows the reversing police-car exit left after a short pause where words or gestures, not visible, could have been exchanged between the cars’ occupants. This video, for obvious reasons, disappeared and reference to it was suppressed, and the ‘In-the-west-we-have-freedom-of-expression’ motif of the event was made a mockery. The kosher-market event was a swat-style response police-team assaulting the market, with no apparent indications of responsive fire from inside the market, and a shortage of indication that the Muslim suspects had done anything more than sought refuge amongst Jews in hope to not be conveniently murdered. For the evidence, suppression of evidence and discussion and storm-and-slaughter without demand for surrender of these events I am suspicious of all of them.

    The 13 November event appears to me to have more likely been an Al Quaeda operation than a Da’esh one. It could be al Quaeda providing for Da’esh, or letting Da’esh take the credit, since Da’esh desperately needs the ‘favorable’ publicity in the world Muslim community: Random murder visited on western innocents in western activities equivalent to muslim wedding celebrations, where many gather to celebrate, qualifies as retaliation for western drone-strike mass-murders of muslim innocents in muslim equivalent circumstances. Even amongst Muslims who deplore the murdering, by both sices, there would be, is, will be, a recognition that the 13 November ‘suicide-strike’ is ‘just’ as a retaliation for comparable senseless-slaughter by western ‘drone-strike’ perpetrators, who ‘did it first’. That is more al Quaeda than Da’esh, whose puritan-motivation viciousnesses against Muslims and non-participant non-Muslims both are outside Mohammed-defined parameters for Islam. You can see, looking on objectively, how the 13 November attack could possibly help Da’esh’s image amongst Muslims, or how they could imagine it might.

    I don’t think anything can help Da’esh at this point, I think its excesses have killed it in all eyes, except the most puritan-fanatic and irrationally anti-west-angry. This means that Da’esh, unless the west goes completely ding-bat-idiot-stupid in retaliating against rational Muslims, is going to suffer increasing attrition as its members jump ship. The speed of the jumping can be increased with western recognition that Muslims who are not desparation-radicalized are rational and deserving of treatment as fellow-humans. The recently bloomed refugee-crisis seems to be bringing European nations to recognition that they need to shrug off the Israeli/Zionist yoke and begin doing this, since the alternative is ‘xenophobic’ upheaval and unrest, if not revolutions.

  5. Abe
    November 16, 2015 at 19:29

    French intel did know, at least since August, that Daesh was planning a major hit. There were recent alerts by Baghdad intelligence and even rumblings of an imminent “French 9/11”. France was occasionally hitting Daesh; mostly the odd training camp, but also targeting Syria’s oil infrastructure at random.

    Daesh is virtually a state oil major; Deir Ezzor province produces up to 40,000 barrels of oil a day, and other wells produce up to an extra 17,000 barrels. Daesh sells them to “independent traders”, aka smugglers, for up to $45 a barrel. As much as pumping oil is a key source of Daesh’s budget, still, technically, the fake “Caliphate” is profiting from an (aging) state infrastructure that ultimately belongs to the Syrian nation. To really hit Daesh where it hurts France — and the US and Britain — would need to rely on what they don’t have; top intel on the ground, not mere air strikes.

    Which brings us back to Raqqa. The fake “Caliphate” capital is a key hub for all that oil smuggling. It also happens to be a potential hub for a future Pipelineistan gambit – be it the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline or its competitor from Qatar.

    Make no mistake: both the US and France are very much focused on Raqqa. This “war” could be over in a few days if all those smugglers – who are in fact financing Daesh – were spotted and arrested (ground intel, again). Daesh’s money flow would be easily intercepted.

    And guess who’s preventing this solution; Turkish intel, because for Ankara the prime obsession is “Assad must go”, not Daesh. There’s absolutely no way to defeat Daesh from above – as long as the usual suspects, especially Gulf petrodollar interests and Erdogan’s Ottomanism, continue to “support” it on the ground, directly, via endless subterfuges, or simply ignoring their operations.

    The good news, as it stands, is that The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), covered by Russian air strikes, liberated Kuweyris airbase, not far from Aleppo, while Kurdish peshmerga, covered by US air strikes, liberated Sinjar in Iraq, west of Mosul. So Daesh will face a lot of trouble moving in and out between Mosul and Raqqa. That may signal the way towards Daesh start losing oilfields in northeast Syria.

    For now, what’s certain is that when Daesh went on overdrive, no intel service seems to have seen it coming.

    They attacked Russia via a Sinai spin-off, bringing down the Metrojet.

    They attacked Lebanon, Shi’ites as a whole, Hezbollah – and indirectly, Iran – via the bombing in the Burj el-Barajneh Shi’ite neighborhood of Beirut. Symbolically, that was an attack against the “4+1” (Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus Hezbollah).

    And they attacked NATO in the heart of Paris (Hollande’s “act of war” crucially implies an attack against all NATO members. Incredible as it may seem, “moderate rebel” facilitator Turkey included.)

    The strategic benefit of opening a war on three fronts – and attacking both Russia and NATO virtually at the same time – is more than dubious. As much as Daesh is flush; profits extensively from extortion, widespread pillaging and oil smuggling; and is showered with cash by generous GCC-based “donors”, that’s a little bit over the top.

    Paris terror attacks — who profits?
    By Pepe Escobar

  6. Abe
    November 16, 2015 at 19:02

    In response to the “terror attacks” in Paris, there have been calls for France to invoke Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty in order to authorize a NATO military response.

    Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty states: “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked.”

    The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created in 1949 with an armed attack by the Soviet Union against Western Europe in mind. However, the mutual self-defense clause was never invoked during the Cold War.

    This article has been invoked only once in NATO history: by the United States after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

    However, NATO-member Turkey had attempted to invoke Article 5 in April 2012.

    The alliance responded quickly to a call from Prime Minister Erdogan, saying that NATO was “monitoring the situation very closely” and “takes it very seriously protecting its members.” On April 17, Turkey said it would raise the issue quietly in the next NATO ministerial meeting. On April 29, the Syrian foreign ministry wrote that it had received Erdogan’s message, which he had repeated a few days before, loud and clear. On 25 June, the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister said that he intended to raise Article 5 at a specially-convened NATO meeting because of the downing of an “unarmed” Turkish military jet which was “13 sea miles” from Syria over “international waters” on a “solo mission to test domestic radar systems”. A Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman insisted that the plane “flying at an altitude of 100 meters inside the Syrian airspace in a clear breach of Syrian sovereignty” and that the “jet was shot down by anti-aircraft fire,” the bullets of which “only have a range of 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles)” rather than by radar-guided missile. On 5 August, ErdoÄŸan stated that “The tomb of Suleyman Shah [in Syria] and the land surrounding it is our territory. We cannot ignore any unfavorable act against that monument, as it would be an attack on our territory, as well as an attack on NATO land… Everyone knows his duty, and will continue to do what is necessary.” NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen later said in advance of the October 2012 ministerial meeting that the alliance was prepared to defend Turkey, and acknowledged that this border dispute concerned the alliance, but underlined the alliance’s hesitancy over a possible intervention: “A military intervention can have unpredicted repercussions. Let me be very clear. We have no intention to interfere militarily [at present with Syria].” On 27 March 2014, recordings were released on YouTube of a conversation purportedly involving then Turkish foreign minister Ahmet DavutoÄŸlu, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun SinirlioÄŸlu, then National Intelligence Organization (MÄ°T) head Hakan Fidan, and Deputy Chief of General Staff General YaÅŸar Güler. The recording has been reported as being probably recorded at DavutoÄŸlu’s office at the Foreign Ministry on 13 March. Transcripts of the conversation reveal that, as well as exploring the options for Turkish forces engaging in false flag operations inside Syria, the meeting involved a discussion about using the threat to the tomb as an excuse for Turkey to intervene militarily inside Syria. DavutoÄŸlu stated that Erdogan told him that he saw the threat to the tomb as an “opportunity”.

    Now a new “opportunity” has arisen for NATO to attack Syria.

    The recent turmoil over the Paris incidents has obscured the reality that ISIS is supplied via NATO-member Turkey.

    • dahoit
      November 21, 2015 at 19:22

      The Syrians should move the tomb.A gift for Turkey.

  7. JWalters
    November 16, 2015 at 18:29

    “First of all, we should consider the many wars of Israel”

    Thanks for putting this up front. Israel is the tip of the spear for the corporate war profiteers. Back when Israel was being established the U.S. Secretary of Defense predicted the blowback from the Muslim world that we are seeing today. For relevant historical details see

    The above link is recommended “highly” by former CIA analyst Ray McGovern here

    • dahoit
      November 21, 2015 at 19:15

      And we are the tip of the Israeli security and expansion program.Our blood,treasure and security,all for them.

  8. F. G. Sanford
    November 16, 2015 at 15:36

    Not a bad summary, but I have to quibble with the “peaceful Arab spring demonstration” part. It’s a well-established fact that there was never any “peaceful” phase in Syria; it was violent and Salafist from the get-go. Thanks to exposed diplomatic cables, the whole, wide world knows about Robert Ford and William Roebuck and their subversive activities ‘a la’ John Negroponte. That little episode of the bomb planted to blow up the entire graduating class of Syria’s military academy is also conveniently forgotten.

    The “peaceful Arab spring” in Syria is a mirror image of the Maidan coup engineered by Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt. Typical of the Goebbelesque propaganda strategy in current vogue, “complete reversal of the truth” is the tactic at hand. We hear incessant references to “Putin’s incursions” in Ukraine, and the legitimate government of Syria is referred to as a “regime”.

    Now, the Obama administration claims it is trying to get Putin to cooperate in a rational strategy to “work with moderate forces” – which Obama previously admitted don’t really exist. We are on the cusp of international mayhem with the French talking openly about invoking “Article Five”, which of course would have no basis in international law. But it plays well to the gullible, ill informed American public.

    So far, all the terrorists involved in the despicable act carried out in Paris are Europeans: Belgians, French and possibly Germans. One was apparently caught (or killed?) with a Syrian passport. Almost certainly this was a “plant” – after all, who says to themselves, “I’m going to commit an atrocity, so I’d better make sure I take my passport”.

    While analysts will almost certainly dismiss “false flag terror”, these people were known and apparently surveilled to at least some extent by DGSE. “Letting it happen on purpose”, or “LIHOP”, is still a false-flag strategy.

    • Abe
      November 16, 2015 at 18:08

      In marches ex-CIA analyst Paul Pillar with all sorts of juicy “tidbits” of non-analysis that illustrate how really, really “complicated” the war in Syria is.

      Pillar’s latest fetish is the “anti-ISIS effort”.

      Consortium News readers soon will get follow-up non-analysis from ex-CIA analyst Graham E. Fuller about how the “hour has struck” for “broader and deeper international action. ISIS must be eliminated.”

      The “terror attacks” in Paris were precisely meant to motivate an internationalization of Washington’s “anti-ISIS” charade in Syria.

      • F. G. Sanford
        November 16, 2015 at 18:23

        Thanks for this comment. With all due respect to Consortium News, I have lately done my best to avoid reading Fuller’s and Pillar’s articles. Sometimes, my curiosity gets the best of me, mainly because I enjoy reading the comments which often put the complexity of their tortured perspectives through an objective strainer. What comes out is often distilled essence of eau de merde. They both play better at TheReaNews, where jaundiced eyes never seem to gaze. Speaking of which, I’m pretty sure Paul Jay has a glass eye, poor fellow…

        • Gregory Kruse
          November 17, 2015 at 19:57

          Speaking of TRNN, I have been trying to resist a disinterest in most of their reports. Since Sharmini Peries came on as “Executive Producer” and Paul Jay spends most of his time apparently raising money, I have lost enthusiasm for their program, except for the reports by Jessica Desvarieux and Jessel Noor. Some time ago Jay was talking about deciding what kind of people they want to be their base, and I guess it isn’t people like me, but who can blame them. I have little money and no influence. The people with money and influence seem to be starting or continuing wars everywhere. Even the little money I do give, they don’t seem to want. As wealth rises to the top, you have to go to the top to get money. I sometimes think I should withdraw my support from all the other worthy causes and give all I can to consortiumnews.

  9. Abe
    November 16, 2015 at 14:22

    Beware the “chickens come home to roost” red herring that undergirds Mr. Paul’s manifest inability to grasp the motives for terror.

    • D5-5
      November 16, 2015 at 14:50

      Can you say more on this? If it’s not explainable in terms of “chickens come home to roost” or “blowback,” what else is going on? Patrick Cockburn suggests ISIS has cleverly galvanized huge numbers of recruits who are in it for glory and adventure. Or should we push into the nature of human aggression itself including pleasure in violence? The politicos of course will blame somebody, anybody, else. The problem with your quick dismissal of this article is it sounds a little hubristic in itself on this difficult question of WHY to what is happening.

    • Abe
      November 16, 2015 at 15:52

      The question of WHY is not difficult.

      The people of France must be properly motivated to consent to Paris’ participation in Washington’s wars.

      The question of WHO is not complex.

      ISIS is us = Israel-US special operations (with the support of properly motivated poodles, including France, UK, and the Arab monarchies).

      Once you acknowledge the identity of the true agents of terror, the motives for terror are easy to identify.

      • Abe
        November 16, 2015 at 16:32

        Of course, one can ignore the identity of the agents and puzzle about the motives of terror, all the while yammering about “chickens” and “blowback”.

  10. Zachary Smith
    November 16, 2015 at 13:11

    I liked this essay a lot, and found only one part where I disagree.

    As the chickens come home to roost, Western publics must wake up and demand a peaceful policy path, if they are to avoid more suffering themselves and live in harmony with their neighbors.

    Whenever I telephone or email any of my Indiana representatives in Washington, it’s immediately plain to me they don’t give a **** about what I think. Increasingly, their campaigns are financed by some very rich individual or organization and that’s to whom they owe their allegiance. If some periodic musical chairs become necessary to preserve the pretense of “democracy”, there will almost certainly be a very pleasant job waiting for them when they leave office.

    When the election rolls around, I’m almost always offered a choice of “very bad” running against “even worse”. That setup allows them to go easy on the use of the no-verification no-recount computer devices I must use to register my vote. When the Powers That Be already own both candidates, it’s not at all necessary to tinker with the vote totals.

    With that off my chest, I want to thank Mr. Paul for all the background information. That the US had “Ninety U.S. Air Force target specialists” assisting Saddam ought to have shocked me, but somehow it didn’t.

  11. Abe
    November 16, 2015 at 13:10

    special attention must be paid to the US response to these attacks, that is not simply exposing the true role of Washington in this tragedy, but also reveals the true face of Western hypocrisy.

    As always, while trying to fool the public with American pseudo-success in the field of ‘combating terrorism’, on Friday November 13, Barack Obama in an interview on ABC News made a “sensational” statement that the United States “due to its decisive actions” has managed “to contain the terrorists of the Islamic State.” It’s noteworthy that the Washington Times commented on this statement with a short note about the terrorist attack in Paris being carried out hours after this statement.

    However, this was not the only “revelation” made by US officials, as US Secretary of State John Kerry at a meeting of foreign ministers in Vienna, has publicly stated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “… is closely affiliated with ISIL .. since he buys crude oil from ISIL”. Someone would want turn a blind eye to such remarks made by Kerry, since his apparent “fatigue” caused by numerous trips in recent years is now apparent. It all must be really difficult for a man of his age, especially when his military background is taken into account. But it’s obvious now that at times he cannot read the speeches that were written for him by his aides. Or maybe he hasn’t been interested in the international and American media lately, that has been revealing the involvement of the United States in the creation of ISIL, while the crude oil stolen by ISIL is being sold by American allies – Turkey and Ukraine.

    While trying to stay out of direct military involvement in Syria, the US has urged Paris to send an expeditionary force to Syria for it to fight the Islamic state. This call has been voiced by Stratfor, which is often labeled as the “shadow CIA”. In particular, Stratfor noted that the sky over Syria is packed with Syrian and Russian warplanes, so France may engage the Islamic State on the ground in Syria, Iraq and in other countries, including Libya. Stratfor anyalists are convinced that this engagement would be no different from the French operation in the African Sahel region, which was aimed at suppressing various extremist groups. As for the US, Stratfor states, it would assist France with transport aircraft.

    It is possible that in the next weeks we will learn of even more “shadow aspects” of the brutal attack on Paris, and about the role Western elites played in it. It may be that we are witnessing a repeat of “Operation Gladio“, due to which hundreds of innocent Italians perished in CIA-planned terrorist attacks that were aimed at ensuring the success of Western oligarchies.

    The ‘Shadow Aspects’ of the Paris Massacre
    By Martin Berger

    • Lusion
      November 16, 2015 at 13:40

      On the topic of IS oil-trade and more, from:

      “Putin said at the G20 summit that Russia has presented examples of terrorism financing by individual businessmen from 40 countries, including from member states of the G20.

      Russia has also presented satellite images and aerial photos showing the true scale of the Islamic State oil trade.

      “I’ve demonstrated the pictures from space to our colleagues, which clearly show the true size of the illegal trade of oil and petroleum products market,”
      Putin told reporters after the G20 summit.

      The Russian president also said that Syrian opposition is ready to launch an anti-ISIL operation if Russia provides air support.

      “A part of the Syrian opposition considers it possible to begin military actions against ISIL with the assistance of the Russian air forces, and we are ready to provide that assistance,”
      the Russian president said.

      Vladimir Putin said that Russia needs support from the US, Saudi Arabia and Iran in fight against terrorism.

      “It’s not the time to debate who is more effective in the fight against ISIL, what we need to do is consolidate our efforts,” president Putin added.”

      • Zachary Smith
        November 16, 2015 at 15:00

        Putin is right – here is a 2013 headline:

        EU lifts Syria oil embargo to bolster rebels

        If France wants to do anything substantial to hurt the terrorists, they have plenty of options. Launching token raids using US target information may well mean they’re blowing up empty warehouses.

      • Abe
        November 16, 2015 at 17:30

        In reality, Zachary, the U.S. bombing campaign aimed at destroying Syrian civilian infrastructure including power plants, oil refineries, bridges and food distribution facilities.

        ISIS has provided the U.S. with a pretext for the illegal bombing of Syria.

        The results attest to the fact that notwithstanding official claims, ISIS has NEVER been the actual target of the U.S. air campaign.

        It would be more accurate to frame the U.S. bombing in Syria as close air support for all the CIA-sponsored Al Qaeda, including Al Nusra and ISIS/ISIL.

        Direct air assaults on Syrian military forces have been kept to a minimum at this stage of the regime change project, but that’s the logical next step.

        We’ll see just how many “terror attacks” are required to kick the poodles up to the next level of military conflict.

        And now there’s the Russian response to consider.

        Aye, the game is on.

  12. Lusion
    November 16, 2015 at 13:07

    Since this fine article also mentions the “regime-change” catastrophe in Libya, I would like to take the opportunity and ask you erudite people – slightly off topic – about some of the claims being made about Gaddafi, his plans and system of governance.
    It’s a repeat from a comment I made days late on the Lockerbie article…

    I have heard that Gaddafi planned the creation of a pan-African currency by name of Gold Dinar, which would initially be backed by his private holdings of more than 100 tonnes of gold, and that he invited Middle Eastern Arab countries to participate as well.

    If this was a viable plan, it could have undermined the world reserve currency status of the Dollar, esp. if OPEC-countries would have eventually taken him up on the offer to participate in the prospective African bank.

    Gaddafi’s financing of an African satellite must have cost certain interests a small fortune in missed fees already, but major oil-trading with a gold-backed currency would certainly have the potential for eliciting cataclysmic shifts in international finance.

    Sarkozy reportedly said this project would be a “threat to the financial security of mankind”.

    France was on the forefront of demanding Gaddafi must go, and there are quite a lot of French banking institutes on the African continent, too, as far as I know.

    So, what is your view?
    Did Gaddafi sign his own death warrant with these plans?
    Also – where is this gold now?

    A similar claim has been made about Saddam Hussein planning to sell oil for Euros, but as far as I know, he backed away from that project under the pressure of the sanctions..?

    What I am also curious about, ís whether it is true, that Libya had a sort of revolutionary direct democracy system in place, a “third way”, not capitalism nor communism, following Gaddafi’s famous green book?

    I’ve been looking into it superficially, and it sounds too good to have possibly been true:

    If it was in place, did it actually work – did his popular councils determine politics for the public good, or was it simply your garden variety authoritarian, but benevolent dictatorship with strong economic nationalism?

    When I read, that Libya went from being the poorest country in Africa with a literacy rate of 20% to being the richest one with 83% literacy, with free and quality health-care and education, with a law against taking interest on loans, debt-free money generation and a complete lack of any foreign debt, while housing was considered a human right and people received start-up money and goods when founding a family or farm, I have to conclude that yes, something seems to have worked quite beautifully in practice!

    Could therein lie one of the reasons, why the sudden attempt at installing a parliamentary democracy failed so miserably? Since Gaddafi viewed such a system as inherently corrupt – and who could contradict him on that one with a straight face – I suppose the respective state-institutions were simply not in place.

    Or did I just fall for misinformation provided by a friend with plans for having Gaddafi’s likeness printed on a T-shirt? No joke…

    So please, enlighten me a bit about this enigma (at least for me), of Libya under the Colonel!

    • Abe
      November 16, 2015 at 13:58

      Libya Then and Now: An Overview of NATO’s Handiwork
      By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

      • Lusion
        November 16, 2015 at 15:42

        Thank you, a very interesting article!
        Unfortunately it doesn’t mention plans for an African ‘Gold Dinar’ to trade oil with, or analyze the actual system of governance, in particular how the principles of Gaddafi’s Green Book with its proposed popular councils was, or was not put into practice.

        I nevertheless found the following passages noteworthy:

        “In 2008 Goldman Sachs was given US$1.3 billion dollars by the Libyan Investment Authority. In unfathomable terms, Goldman Sachs told the Libyans that 98% of their investment was lost overnight, which means the Libyans lost almost all the money they gave Goldman Sachs…

        Goldman Sachs was not alone in filching Libyan investment funds: Société Générale S.A., Carlyle Group, J.P. Morgan Chase, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, and Lehman Brothers Holdings were also all in possession of vast Libyan investments and funds. In one way or another, NATO’s war on Libya and the freeze of Libyan financial assets profited them all…

        While Libyan energy reserves and geopolitics played major roles in launching the 2011 war, it was also waged in part to appropriate Tripoli’s vast financial holdings and to supplement and maintain the crumbling financial hegemony of Wall Street and other financial centres. Wall Street could not allow Tripoli to be debt-free, to continue accumulating international financial possessions, and to be a creditor nation giving international loans and investing funds in other countries, particularly in Africa. Thus, major banks in the United States and the European Union, like the giant multinational oil conglomerates, had major roles and interests in the NATO war on Tripoli.”

      • Abe
        November 16, 2015 at 16:21

        Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, a Sociologist and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) in Montréal, was on the ground in Libya for over two months.

        Nazemroaya served as a Special Correspondent for Flashpoints, an investigative news program carried on numerous stations in the United States and based in Berkeley, California.

        In October 2011, Nazemroaya released a series of articles about Libya in conjunction with aired discussions with Cynthia McKinney on Freedom Now, a program aired on KPFK, Los Angeles, California.

        Google the following article titles to read the four part series:

        I. Libya and the Big Lie: Using Human Rights Organizations to Launch Wars

        II. America’s Conquest of Africa: The Roles of France and Israel

        III. Israel and Libya: Preparing Africa for the “Clash of Civilizations”

        IV. Who Was Muammar Qaddafi? Libya’s Wealth Redistribution Project

        Gaddafi gold-for-oil, dollar-doom plans behind Libya ‘mission’?

        • Lusion
          November 16, 2015 at 16:54

          Fantastic – thank you!

    • Abe
      November 16, 2015 at 14:02

      The Islamic State (ISIS), a radical Islamist group, became organised in Libya in the spring of 2014. Libyan militants, previously fighting with ISIS in Syria and Iraq, returned to their homeland to form a branch of the organisation there. The organisation was founded in April 2014 with 300 of these “returnees” in Derna […]

      One of ISIS’ current leaders in Libya is Abdelhakim Belhadj, the “Arab Afghan”, one of the leaders of the “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)” This contemporary jihadist figure has a long-standing relationship with US intelligence agencies. Belhadj coordinates the activities of the Islamic State training centres in the eastern part of Libya around the city of Derna.

      A previous active collaborator with al-Qaeda, Belhadj repeatedly boasted about the killing of US troops in Afghanistan in video records. However he later became a “model insurgent” seeking to topple Gaddafi. Led by the division of the “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group” (formed in 1995 with the goal of overthrowing Gaddafi), attacked the Bab al-Azizia district in central Tripoli, where a military base, a complex of government offices and the residence and bunker of Muammar Gaddafi were located.

      The USA and its NATO allies called Belhadj a “freedom fighter” in 2011 who courageously led his supporters in the victory against the “despotic Gaddafi”. Reputable western publications note that “Belhadj served the cause of the United States so well in Libya that he even received an award from Senator John McCain“, who called Belhadj and his followers heroes.

      The episode with Belhadj in Libya demonstrates its “sort of evolution as a result of changes in campaigns of foreign players in the solution of its geostrategic objectives. The “LIFG militant”, a “moderate”, “their man in Tripoli” is now one of the ISIS leaders in Libya.

      The United States have been and continue to be promoters of extremist militants from Libya, Syria and beyond, and all the talk about “moderate rebels” is just rhetoric, designed to “deceive the public.” Washington is providing assistance to those forces that meet their interests, regardless of their ideological affiliation.

      Controlled ISIS military training camps in the vicinity of Derna continue to act as the main supplier of the supporters of “pure Islam” in the region. It can be argued with high probability that these training structures are controlled by intelligence services of the foreign states.

      Western policy in support of “moderate insurgents” is nothing but a PR campaign. The myth of “moderate insurgents”, the example with Belhadj shouldn’t be reviewed in a vacuum. For more than three years Washington has actively supported the so-called moderate insurgents in Syria. The program in which terrorist groups such as the Al-Faruq Brigade and the Khazm Brigade, Liwa al-Qusair and Liwa al-Turkoman participated in at different times, later along with many other Islamists organisations and also some factions of the Free Syrian Army entered in the Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS respectively, adding to the arsenal of modern weapons supplied to them earlier by Washington to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

      Activities of ISIS in Libya
      By Dmitry Nechitaylo

  13. Abe
    November 16, 2015 at 12:25

    ISIS-held territory […] forms a corridor directly up to the Syrian-Turkish border – or more accurately, begins at the Turkish-Syrian border. In recent days, this corridor has faced being completely cut off by joint Syrian-Russian gains in and around Aleppo and toward the western bank of the Euphrates River. East of the Euphrates is already held by Kurds and Syrian forces. NATO is clearly providing ISIS’ primary support, and yet ISIS is alleged to have been behind an attack on a NATO member.

    […] by simply looking at any number of maps detailing territory held by various factions amid the Syrian conflict, it is clear that ISIS is not a “state” of any kind, but an ongoing invasion emanating from NATO-member Turkey’s territory, with its primary supply corridor crossing the Turkish-Syrian border between the Syrian town of Ad Dana and the western bank of the Euphrates River, a supply corridor now increasingly shrinking.

    In fact, the desperation exhibited by the West and its efforts to oust the Syrian government and salvage its proxy force now being decimated by joint Syrian-Russian military operations, is directly proportional to the diminishing size and stability of this corridor.

    Just last week, Syrian forces reestablished firm control over the Kweyris military airport, which was under siege for years. The airport is just 20 miles from the Euphrates, and, as Syrian forces backed by Russian airpower work their way up toward the Turkish border along the Syrian coast, constitutes a unified front that will essentially cut off ISIS deeper inside Syria for good.

    Should ISIS’ supply lines be cut in the north, the organization’s otherwise inexplicable fighting capacity will atrophy. The window for the West’s “regime change” opportunity is quickly closing, and perhaps in a last ditch effort, France has jammed the spilled blood and broken bodies of its own citizens beneath the window to prevent it from closing for good.

    The reality is that France knew the “Charlie Hebo” attackers, they knew beforehand those involved in the most recent Paris attack, and they likely know of more waiting for their own opportunity to strike. With this knowledge, they stood by and did nothing. What’s more, it appears that instead of keeping France safe, the French government has chosen to use this knowledge as a weapon in and of itself against the perception of its own people, to advance its geopolitical agenda abroad.

    If the people of France want to strike hard at those responsible for repeated terrorist attacks within their borders, they can start with those who knew of the attacks and did nothing to stop them, who are also, coincidentally, the same people who helped give rise to ISIS and help perpetuate it to this very day.

    CONFIRMED: French Government Knew Extremists BEFORE Attack
    By Tony Cartalucci

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