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18 Jun

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

Damn The War Criminals,

Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld,Wolfowitz, Powell and Blair from England

War News

GUARD: Method of attack on tankers remains key evidence against Iran

Release of colour images adds more clarity to debate but fails to prove responsibility

An image the US says shows the Iranian military removing an unexploded limpet mine from the Kokuka Courageous

An image the US says shows the Iranian military removing an unexploded limpet mine from the Kokuka Courageous. Photograph: US navy/Reuters

The sophistication of the attacks on two shipping tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week had already led most independent analysts to conclude Iran was responsible for the high-profile explosions.

But there has been scepticism from some key countries, including Germany and Japan, after the US initially released a grainy black and white video it said showed Iranian forces removing an unexploded mine from one of the two targeted ships. Iran has denied involvement.

The fresh set of colour images released by the US Department of Defense overnight add a little more visual clarity to the diplomatic debate, including an image of an armed speedboat with troops in red life jackets on board, and life-jacketed personnel by the side of the Japanese vessel that was struck last week.

A photo the US says shows an Iranian patrol boat

A photo the US says shows an Iranian patrol boat after reportedly removing an ‘unexploded limpet mine’. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

But the principal evidence used to justify Iranian involvement has been the method employed. The two tankers were mined above the waterline – damaging them, but not sinking them – prompting the conclusion the actions were designed to make a point. There were no fatalities in either case, with both crews rescued.

Jack Watling, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute thinktank, said the attacks were “very precise, to avoid the risk of an oil spill”, to make the point that “Iran can impose a cost on the United States, and that the US can’t police the waterway around the strait of Hormuz”.

Both ships hit last Thursday were operating 19 and 21 nautical miles off Iran – just beyond the 12-mile territorial limit – in the crowded waterways through which 40% of the world’s internationally traded crude passes. Oil prices rose 4.5% on the day.

The mines used were small. Another photo released by the US shows a limpet mine attached to the Japanese vessel, the Kokuka Courageous, which did explode, creating a hole 1.5 metres high and 1.1 metres wide; dramatic enough when pictured, but again not enough to threaten the ship.

A hole blasted in the side of the Kokuka Courageous

A hole blasted in the side of the Kokuka Courageous. Photograph: US Department Of Defense/EPA

The wider argument used to justify Iran’s involvement is that it would make sense as a response by the country to what it perceives as the economic warfare waged by the US in withdrawing from the nuclear deal and imposing sanctions. “The status quo for Iran is unacceptable,” Watling said.

David Wearing, a teaching fellow at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, cautions that the US and its regional allies are “not reliable narrators”, partly because it is in Washington’s interest “to narrow debate to the question of whether or not Iran is guilty of these attacks to present their own aggression as defensive”.

But he acknowledged the evidence so far suggested it was probable Iran was directly involved. “They would likely be attempting to strengthen their hand in this standoff by demonstrating their ability to impose costs on their opponents,” the analyst added.

An image the US has said shows an unexploded limpet mine

An image the US has said shows an unexploded limpet mine used in an attack on the Kokuka Courageous. Photograph: US Department Of Defense/EPA

The release of the images was followed by the announcement that the US was sending another 1,000 troops to the Middle East, a modest show of strength designed to reinforce Washington’s argument about culpability.

A British assessment has also concluded Iranian forces were responsible for the tanker attacks, but there is not understood to be any immediate plans for the UK to step up its military commitment to the region.

Watling believes Tehran can avoid further recrimination “as long as there is sufficient ambiguity”, partly because few believe that Donald Trump, who campaigned on an isolationist agenda, wants war – and because the backing obtained from other countries remains limited.

GUARD: ‘The Saudis couldn’t do it without us’: the UK’s true role in Yemen’s deadly war

Britain does not merely supply the bombs that fall on Yemen – it provides the personnel and expertise that keep the war going. But is the government breaking the law?

By

For more than four years, a brutal Saudi air campaign has bombarded Yemen, killing tens of thousands, injuring hundreds of thousands and displacing millions – creating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. And British weapons are doing much of the killing. Every day Yemen is hit by British bombs – dropped by British planes that are flown by British-trained pilots and maintained and prepared inside Saudi Arabia by thousands of British contractors.

The Saudi-led military coalition, which includes the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait, has “targeted civilians … in a widespread and systematic manner”, according to the UN – dropping bombs on hospitals, schools, weddings, funerals and even camps for displaced people fleeing the bombing.

Saudi Arabia has in effect contracted out vital parts of its war against Yemen’s Houthi movement to the US and the UK. Britain does not merely supply weapons for this war: it provides the personnel and expertise required to keep the war going. The British government has deployed RAF personnel to work as engineers, and to train Saudi pilots and targeteers – while an even larger role is played by BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest arms company, which the government has subcontracted to provide weapons, maintenance and engineers inside Saudi Arabia.

“The Saudi bosses absolutely depend on BAE Systems,” John Deverell, a former MoD mandarin and defence attache to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, told me. “They couldn’t do it without us.” A BAE employee recently put it more plainly to Channel 4’s Dispatches: “If we weren’t there, in seven to 14 days there wouldn’t be a jet in the sky.”

The British bombs that rain down on Yemen are produced in three towns: Glenrothes in Scotland, and Harlow and Stevenage in south-east England. Bombs roll off production lines owned by Raytheon UK and BAE Systems, firms contracted by the government to manufacture Paveway bombs (£22,000 apiece), Brimstone bombs (£105,000 apiece), and Storm Shadow cruise missiles (£790,000 apiece) for the Saudi Royal Air Force. BAE, under government contract, also assembles the jets that drop these bombs in hangars just outside the village of Warton, Lancashire.

Once these weapons arrive in Saudi Arabia, Britain’s involvement is far from over. The Saudi military lacks the expertise to use these weapons to fight a sustained air war – so BAE, under another contract to the UK government, provides what are known as “in-country” services. In practice, this means that around 6,300 British contractors are stationed at forward operating bases in Saudi Arabia. There, they train Saudi pilots and conduct essential maintenance night and day on planes worn out from flying thousands of miles across the Saudi desert to their targets in Yemen. They also supervise Saudi soldiers to load bombs on to planes and set their fuses for their intended targets.

Around 80 serving RAF personnel work inside Saudi Arabia. Sometimes they work for BAE to assist in maintaining and preparing aircraft. At other times they work as auditors to ensure that BAE is fulfilling its Ministry of Defence contracts. Additional RAF “liaison officers” work inside the command-and-control centre, from where targets in Yemen are selected.

Aircraft alone have never defeated a guerrilla insurgency. Despite atrocities committed by the Houthis on the ground, the rebel group’s domestic support has only been bolstered by outrage over years of Saudi bombing. Facing up to this reality, last year Saudi Arabia decided to deploy significant ground forces across the border – and here too, the British have joined the mission. In May 2018, an unknown number of British troops were sent to Yemen to assist Saudi ground forces. Since then, multiple newspapers have published reports of British special forces wounded in gun battles inside Houthi-controlled territory.

Under British law, it is illegal to licence arms exports if they might be used deliberately or recklessly against civilians – or in legal terms, to violate international humanitarian law. There is overwhelming evidence that the Saudis are flagrantly in violation, and yet when questions are raised in Parliament about Britain’s role in the atrocities occurring in Yemen, Conservative ministers typically limit themselves to three well-worn responses.

First, they claim that Britain operates “one of the most robust arms export regimes in the world”. Second, they say that while Britain may arm Saudi Arabia, it does not pick the targets in Yemen. Third, they say that the Saudi-led coalition already investigates its own alleged violations of international humanitarian law.

These responses have long since been overtaken by the bloody reality of the Yemen war. In fact, as the conflict has continued, the killing of civilians has actually accelerated. According to Larry Lewis, a former US State Department official who was sent to Saudi Arabia in 2015 in an attempt to reduce civilian harm, the proportion of strikes against civilians by Saudi-led forces almost doubled between 2017 and 2018.

The UK government’s argument that it does not pick the targets in Yemen resembles nothing so much as the logic of the American gun lobby, with its infamous claim that it’s not guns that kill people, but the people who use them. Since 2016, many countries have revoked or suspended arms sales to Saudi Arabia – including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. But Britain and the US, whose planes constitute the backbone of Saudi Arabia’s combat fleet, are still holding out.

This could soon change. Three of Britain’s most senior judges are now mulling whether the government’s licensing of billions of pounds of arms to the Saudi Royal Air Force has been legal. The court of appeal’s judgment, expected this week, could force the government to suspend the licences that keep the bombs and spare parts flowing to Saudi Arabia, which would ground half of Saudi Arabia’s fleet in a matter of weeks.

The judiciary may now decide to curtail Britain’s ability to sustain Saudi Arabia’s doomed and destructive air war. The British and Saudi governments may also decide to send more aid to help the 24 million Yemenis now dependent on an underfunded UN relief fund. But a generation of Yemenis who have lost their families, their homes, educations and livelihoods will not get them back.

On a 2016 trip to Yemen, the Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell visited a school in the capital. It had been built, he said, with British aid – only to be destroyed, in all likelihood, by a British bomb. “I asked my host what the children were chanting,” he recalled to me in his Westminster office. His host translated for him: “‘Death to the Saudis’, ‘Death to the Americans’ – and in respect for your visit today, they have cut out the third stanza

On 27 March 2015, one day after the first bombs fell on Yemen, foreign secretary Philip Hammond told reporters that Britain would “support the Saudis in every practical way short of engaging in combat”. This would prove to be an understatement.

BAE and Raytheon production lines in Britain sped up to keep up with Saudi bombing. It is impossible to say how many bombs the UK has sent to Yemen, because the government in 2013 and 2014 granted BAE three special arms-export licences that permit the sale of an unlimited number of bombs to Saudi Arabia without requiring disclosure of how many have been sold. As a result, the full scale of the UK’s rearmament programme has remained hidden.

But even discounting this secret trade, British military exports to Riyadh multiplied almost 35-fold in one year, from £83m in 2014 to £2.9bn in 2015.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, can afford to buy these weapons, but it has traditionally lacked the skills and manpower to deploy them. A retired US defence official joked that in the past, all the kingdom’s pilots were selected from the king’s immediate family – because “only they could be trusted not to drop a bomb on his palace”.

British personnel have played a major role in picking up the slack. Government contractors carry out around 95% of the tasks necessary to fight the air war, one former BAE employee told Channel 4’s Dispatches – an estimate confirmed to me by a former senior British official who worked in Saudi Arabia during the air war………………………

Theresa May and Mohammed bin Salman in London in March 2018.

Theresa May and Mohammed bin Salman in London in March 2018. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty

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NYT: US Sending Troops to Mideast Amid Gulf Tensions Over Iran

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is sending 1,000 more troops to the Middle East as tensions in the Persian Gulf mounted Tuesday over Iran’s announcement it will not comply with the international agreement that keeps it from making nuclear weapons. At the same time, Iran insisted it was not seeking war.

Iran’s announcement Monday that it could soon start enriching uranium to just a step away from weapons-grade levels challenged President Donald Trump’s assurances to allies that the U.S. withdrawal from the deal last year made the world a safer place.

The Pentagon responded by ordering 1,000 more troops to the Middle East, including security forces for additional surveillance and intelligence-gathering. The escalation of American military might was aimed at deterring Iran and calming allies worried about the safety of strategic shipping lanes .

Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, insisted Tuesday that while “we do not wage war with any nation,” Iranians will withstand mounting U.S. pressure and emerge victorious.

After Trump withdrew from the deal signed by President Barack Obama, he reinstated stiff economic sanctions, leaving the European and other partners in the accord struggling to keep Iran on board.

Iran’s announcement that it would not abide by a limit on uranium stockpiles established under the 2015 agreement puts the U.S. in the awkward position of demanding that Iran comply with a deal that Trump derides as the worst in history.

“We continue to call on the Iranian regime not to obtain a nuclear weapon, to abide by their commitments to the international community,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Monday.

The U.S. accuses Iran of attacking two tankers near the Persian Gulf; the Iranians deny responsibility. With details murky and no one owning up to the attacks, the Pentagon released new photos intended to bolster its case.

In announcing the new deployment, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the forces are “for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats” in the Mideast.

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Bush’s Five Big Lies That Led to the Iraq Quagmire

These are the five lies Bush told that Ralph Nader documented to impeach him.

  • Weapons of Mass Destruction. The weapons have still not been found. Nader emphasized, “Until the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was our government’s anti-communist ally in the Middle East. We also used him to keep Iran at bay. In so doing, in the 1980s under Reagan and the first Bush, corporations were licensed by the Department of Commerce to export the materials for chemical and biological weapons that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney later accused him of having.” Those weapons were destroyed after the Gulf War. George W. Bush’s favorite chief weapons inspector, David Kay, after returning from Iraq and leading a large team of inspectors and spending nearly half a billion dollars told the president We were wrong. See: David Kay testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, 2004-01-28.Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) ’s Europe division, revealed that in the fall of 2002, George W. Bush, Vice President Cheney, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and others were told by CIA Director George Tenet that Iraq’s foreign minister — who agreed to act as a spy for the United States — had reported that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction program.

  • Iraq Ties to Al Qaeda. The White House made this claim even though the CIA and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) repeatedly told the Administration that there was no tie between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. They were mortal enemies — one secular, the other fundamentalist.

  • Saddam Hussein was a Threat to the United States. In fact, Saddam was a tottering dictator, with an antiquated, fractured army of low morale and with Kurdish enemies in Northern Iraq and Shiite adversaries in the South of Iraq. He did not even control the air space over most of Iraq.

  • Saddam Hussein was a Threat to his Neighbors. In fact, Iraq was surrounded by countries with far superior military forces. Turkey, Iran and Israel were all capable of obliterating any aggressive move by the Iraqi dictator.

  • The Liberation of the Iraqi People. There are brutal dictators throughout the world, many supported over the years by Washington, whose people need liberation from their leaders. This is not a persuasive argument since for Iraq, it’s about oil. In fact, the occupation of Iraq by the United States is a magnet for increasing violence, anarchy and insurrection

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Save The Children Organization

Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organisation for children and has been working with families, communities and local authorities in Iraq since 1991, leading NGOs in general relief and development programs.Save the Children is currently responding to the needs of internally displaced persons (IDP) and the Syrian refugees in Iraq, in camps and non-camp settings. Our goal is for children in Iraq to be supported in raising their voices and attaining their rights, especially the right to participate in decisions affecting their lives. They should have access to quality education, health and protection services. We are increasing access to community based services that protect, educate and improve quality of life for children. We are ensuring that there is an increased participation of boys and girls in age appropriate activities and services. We are ensuring that children benefit from government actions that create an environment of awareness and accountability to uphold child rights. We are also developing new resources and innovative practices that support our work for children and youth.In Iraq, Save the Children’s interventions include Child Protection, Education, Food Security and Livelihoods, Shelter and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), reaching vulnerble children and families in northern and central Iraq. Save the Children’s programs are implemented through field offices in Erbil, Dohuk, Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk and Kalar, with a country office located in Erbil.

Visit Save The Children Organization>>

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Global Research Photo

Iraqi War Child

Please Never Forget.

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