Al Qaeda Rebranding Serves US Agenda

March 25, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The RAND Corporation's recent piece titled, "Al Qaeda in Syria Can Change Its Name, but Not Its Stripes," all but admits what was already suspected about designated terrorist groups operating in Syria - that they are undergoing a transition in an attempt by their state sponsors to bolster their legitimacy and spare them from liquidation amid the shifting tides on the battlefield.


The piece, written by Colin Clarke described by the RAND Corporation as a "political scientist at the RAND Corporation and an associate fellow at the International Center for Counter Terrorism," states:
Following recent infighting with other Syrian rebel groups in the northwestern part of the country, al Qaeda in Syria appears to have recognized the need to secure legitimacy and present itself to the civilian population it seeks to influence as an authentically Syrian entity.
However, this is not simply Al Qaeda's objective - this is the objective of the United States itself as well as the Persian Gulf states it funnels money and arms through, fueling Syria's destructive conflict since 2011.

Clarke continues by stating:
The most likely scenario is that the change in nomenclature is merely an attempt to buy time and live to fight another day. Indeed, the rebranding has done nothing to slow down the group's operations tempo of conducting attacks.
And concludes by claiming:
Six years into the conflict in Syria, al Qaeda's presence in the country has never been stronger. And while most dismiss the notion of al Qaeda as a political entity in Syria, the same was said 30 years ago about Hezbollah — the Shia group that now holds seats in Lebanon's parliament and maintains a vast military wing. If jihadist groups linked to al Qaeda in Syria can succeed in rebranding themselves, they can take steps toward positioning themselves as political players if or when negotiations to end the civil war in Syria gain traction.
Clarke notes that militant groups fighting in Syria - being associated with Al Qaeda - has greatly complicated efforts by the US and its collaborators to fund, arm, and otherwise support their efforts in executing regime change against Damascus.

Hopes of playing a rhetorical shell game that is long and complicated enough to confuse the general public and produce a front ambiguous enough for the West and its regional partners to more directly and widely support is essential. While the overthrow of the Syrian government looks all but impossible at the moment, the US, Turkey, and various Persian Gulf states appear to be maneuvering to annex territory and place it under the control of these "rebranded" terrorist groups.

As previously noted, across the entirety of the Western media, there is a concerted effort to provide cover for what is the preservation of proxy groups fighting in Syria as the conflict draws to an end. Explaining away how these groups will find themselves protected safe havens abroad, or rehabilitate themselves into legitimate political fronts is merely the latest in a long line of ploys Western policymakers have used to pose as fighting terrorist organizations while simultaneously serving as their exclusive state sponsors.


In reality, however "reasonable" the West's repetitive talking points may seem, the prospect of a "legitimate" political front composed of Al Qaeda terrorists is only a possibility if the United States and its regional allies provide it recognition. The prospect of Syria, Russia, Iran or other states outside Washington's sphere of influence recognizing the legitimacy of such an entity is unlikely.

However, considering the immense amount of resources provided to these terrorist organizations since their inception back in the 1980s by the West and its allies, the continuation of this support into the realm of political fronts seems all but inevitable. Yet the crisis of credibility the West has suffered as its project in Syria drags on will only expand if and when such a political front is established and lent legitimacy by the West and its allies.


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Singapore Bigot Granted Asylum in US: A Taste of Things to Come

March 27, 2017 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Singaporean Amos Yee fits the description of virtually every foreign-backed agitator used to target and undermine political orders worldwide as part of Washington's "soft power" toolkit. 


He is a young individual who, at 18 years old, was not particularly bright in school and possesses no practical talent or skill with which to contribute to society. Incapable of achieving positive attention based on his merit, he has embarked on a life of seeking negative attention based on his ability to agitate, insult and defame. Much of his behaviour bears the hallmarks of clinical narcissism and other forms of mental illness.

It is very likely that no one at all would have even heard of Amos Yee were it not for the constant attention provided to him by US and European media outlets as well as assistance provided to him by politically motivated "rights advocates" like Amnesty International. More recently, a US court has ruled that Amos Yee qualifies for political asylum in America.

An article published by Quartz titled, "A US judge has granted a Singapore teen blogger political asylum, calling him a “young political dissident”," would report:
A United States judge has granted asylum to Amos Yee, an 18-year-old blogger from Singapore, who has been jailed on two occasions for his public views on religion and politics. Yee came to the US in December under the visa waiver program and requested asylum before an immigration judge, expressing a fear of returning to Singapore. 

Judge Samuel Cole approved his asylum, describing him as a “young political dissident” and saying that his “prosecution, detention and general maltreatment at the hands of Singapore authorities constitute persecution.”
It is perhaps ironic, however, that Amos Yee is not engaged in civilised discourse or legitimate political opposition in Singapore. Instead, he is engaged in the same sort of bigoted, divisive agitation used elsewhere around the world by Western governments to foment division, unrest and even catastrophic violence everywhere from North Africa to the Middle East, and from Eastern Europe to Southeast Asia. Had Amos Yee been attacking homosexuals, ethnic minorities or America's political principles, it is likely he would be labelled a bigot, be targeted by "hate speech" laws in the United States and otherwise silenced.

But because he is targeting a foreign state over which the US seeks influence, his otherwise intolerable agitations have been portrayed as "political dissidence."

Were Singapore more susceptible to such tactics and should the United States and Europe find more agitators like Amos Yee to prop up, unrest and even violence could once again take to Singapore's streets. Like yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre, the unconstructive rhetoric Amos Yee engages in serves only to divide and endanger society, not advance it in any civilised, progressive manner.


US Presence in Korea Drives Instability

March 25, 2017 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - US and European interests continue to portray the government and nation of North Korea as a perpetual security threat to both Asia and the world. Allegations regarding the nation's nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs are continuously used as justification for not only a continuous US military presence on the Korean Peninsula, but as justification for a wider continued presence across all of Asia-Pacific. 


In reality, what is portrayed as an irrational and provocative posture by the North Korean government, is in fact driven by a very overt, and genuinely provocative posture by the United States and its allies within the South Korean government.

During this year's Foal Eagle joint US-South Korean military exercises, US-European and South Korean media sources intentionally made mention of  preparations for a "decapitation" strike on North Korea. Such an operation would be intended to quickly eliminate North Korean military and civilian leadership to utterly paralyze the state and any possible response to what would most certainly be the subsequent invasion, occupation and subjugation of North Korea.

The Business Insider in an article titled, "SEAL Team 6 is reportedly training for a decapitation strike against North Korea's Kim regime," would report:
The annual Foal Eagle military drills between the US and South Korea will include some heavy hitters this year — the Navy SEAL team that took out Osama bin Laden, Army Special Forces, and F-35s — South Korea's Joon Gang Daily reports. 

South Korean news outlets report that the SEALs, who will join the exercise for the first time, will simulate a "decapitation attack," or a strike to remove North Korea's leadership.
To introduce an element of plausible deniability to South Korean reports, the article would continue by stating:
Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Gary Ross later told Business Insider that the US military "does not train for decapitation missions" of any kind. 
Yet this is a categorically false statement. Throughout the entirety of the Cold War, US policymakers, military planners and operational preparations focused almost solely on devising methods of "decapitating" the Soviet Union's political and military leadership.

In more recent years, policy papers and the wars inspired by them have lead to documented instances of attempted "decapitation" operations, including the 2011 US-NATO assault on Libya in which the government of Muammar Qaddafi was targeted by airstrikes aimed at crippling the Libyan state and assassinating both members of the Qaddafi family as well as members of the then ruling government.

Similar operations were aimed at Iraq earlier during the 2003 invasion and occupation by US-led forces.

Regarding North Korea more specifically, entire policy papers have been produced by prominent US policy think tanks including the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) devising plans to decimate North Korea's military and civilian leadership, invade and occupy the nation and confound North Korea's capacity to resist what would inevitably be its integration with its southern neighbor.


US Expands Defacto Syrian Invasion

March 25, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The recent expansion of US military forces in Syria follows a predictable, singular agenda targeting this nation for decades - and more specifically - during the most recent and ongoing conflict which began in 2011 amid the US-engineered "Arab Spring."


The UK Independent in its article, "US marines sent to Syria to help assault on Isis' Raqqa stronghold," would report that:
Hundreds of US marines have arrived in Syria armed with heavy artillery in preparation for an assault on Isis’ de-facto capital of Raqqa.
However, the presence of US troops in Syria is entirely unsolicited by the Syrian government and constitutes a clear violation of Syria's national sovereignty under international law.

CNN in its article, "Assad: US military forces in Syria are 'invaders'," would report that:
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad scoffed and questioned US actions in Syria, calling American troops deploying to the country "invaders" because he hadn't given permission for them to enter the country and saying there's been no "concrete action" from the Trump administration toward ISIS.
The fact that US policy remains absolutely unchanged despite a new president taking office is no surprise.

Further Evidence of Continuity of Agenda 

With Israel occupying Syria's Golan Heights and Turkish troops occupying a northern "buffer zone" stretching from Azaz in the west to Jarabulus on the Euphrates River in the east, US troops continuing to carve out a permanent presence in Syria's eastern most regions threatens to fulfill a decades old conspiracy to divide and destroy the Syrian state.

Recently declassified documents from the US Central Intelligence Agency reveal that as early as 1983, the US was engaged in virtually identical covert and overt operations aimed at destabilizing and overthrowing the Syria government.

A 1983 document signed by former CIA officer Graham Fuller titled, "Bringing Real Muscle to Bear Against Syria" (PDF), states (their emphasis):
Syria at present has a hammerlock on US interests both in Lebanon and in the Gulf -- through closure of Iraq's pipeline thereby threatening Iraqi internationalization of the [Iran-Iraq] war. The US should consider sharply escalating the pressures against Assad [Sr.] through covertly orchestrating simultaneous military threats against Syria from three border states hostile to Syria: Iraq, Israel and Turkey. 
The report also states:
If Israel were to increase tensions against Syria simultaneously with an Iraqi initiative, the pressures on Assad would escalate rapidly. A Turkish move would psychologically press him further. 
That a virtually indistinguishable agenda has transcended decades and multiple presidencies allows observers of Syria's current conflict to sidestep tempting political diversions and focus solely on the strategic overlay of the actual conflict.

Despite claims across the Western media that Turkey and the United States are at odds - and specifically at odds regarding their respective illegal occupations and operations within Syrian territory - their decades long collaboration in the attempted division and destruction of the Syrian state indicates that in all likelihood, this collaboration continues, albeit behind a veil of feigned conflicting interests.

Likewise, attempts to portray Israel as a rogue nation amid this ongoing conflict affords US policymakers flexibility through plausible deniability. Airstrikes targeting Syrian forces impossible for the US or even Turkey to justify, are tolerated by the "international community" when carried out by Israel.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other lesser members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are similarly used to launder various aspects of US foreign policy targeting Syria through, including the arming, training, and funding of various terrorist organizations including Al Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) itself.

Should the US-NATO-Israeli-GCC axis be more overtly apparent, such flexibility would be significantly negated.

The True Endgame for US Troops in Syria

US ambitions versus the Syrian state have been significantly rolled back by both Syrian advances on the battlefield and the direct military support it is receiving from allies including Russia and Iran. Turkish forces attempting to advance deeper into Syrian territory under the guise of fighting "terrorists" and Kurdish fighters Ankara claims threaten Turkish national security are now chaffing against Syrian Arab Army forces changing places with Kurdish forces along the perimeter of Turkey's "buffer zone."

Likewise, US forces are facing similar obstacles in their attempts to incrementally seize Syrian territory. Additionally, their proxy forces consist of militant organizations disinterested in long-term cooperation with the United States or in carving out autonomous regions within Syria's borders that will inevitably face sociopolitical and economic hurdles the US will have no interest in assisting them in crossing - meaning that eventually, any long-term deal will likely be struck with Damascus, not Washington.

But like Israel's seizure and ongoing occupation of the Golan Heights, Turkish and American incursions and territorial seizures constitutes a similar, incremental dismemberment of the Syrian state. Facing the likely prospect that most of Syria's territory will return to Damascus' control sooner than later, the US and its collaborators in Ankara are attempting to take and hold as much territory as possible before this happens in a bid to weaken Syria ahead of future, yet to unfold rounds of targeted destabilization.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.