ISIS in Afghanistan: Proxy War against Iran and China

August 5, 2015 (Eric Draitser - NEO) - The nature of the war in Afghanistan has shifted dramatically in recent months. While the US and NATO continue to be actively involved in the country – their strategic objectives having changed very little since the Bush administration launched the war nearly a decade and a half ago – the complexion of the battlefield, and the parties actively engaged in the war, has changed significantly.



The emergence of ISIS in Afghanistan, along with the impending withdrawal of US-NATO troops from the country, has driven the Taliban into a marriage of convenience, if not an outright alliance, with Iran. What seemed like an unfathomable scenario just a few years ago, Shia Iran’s support for the hardline Sunni Taliban has become a reality due to the changing circumstances of the war. Though it may be hard to believe, such an alliance is now a critical element of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. But its significance is far larger than just shifting the balance of power within the country.

Instead, Afghanistan is now in many ways a proxy conflict between the US and its western and Gulf allies on the one hand, and Iran and certain non-western countries, most notably China, on the other. If the contours of the conflict might not be immediately apparent, that is only because the western media, and all the alleged brainiacs of the corporate think tanks, have failed to present the conflict in its true context. The narrative of Afghanistan, to the extent that it’s discussed at all, continues to be about terrorism and stability, nation-building and “support.” But this is a fundamental misunderstanding and mischaracterization of the current war, and the agenda driving it.

And what is this new and dangerous agenda? It is about no less than the future of Afghanistan and Central Asia. It is about the US and its allies clinging to the country, a key foothold in the region, and wanting to find any pretext to maintain their presence. It is about Iran and China positioning themselves in the country for the inevitable moment of US withdrawal and the opening up of Afghanistan’s economy. At the most basic level, it is about access and influence. And, as usual in this part of the world, terrorism and extremism are the most potent weapons.

The New Afghan War: Enter ISIS

When the Islamic State (ISIS) made its first public appearance in Afghanistan in the fall of 2014 passing out pamphlets in the Afghan refugee camps along the Pakistani border, it was to very little international fanfare. In fact, many doubted at the time whether it was a genuine presence, or merely a publicity stunt designed to raise the terror organization’s public image. However, within a few weeks, ISIS militants committed a mass beheading in the strategically vital Ghazni province, an important region of the country that lies on the Kabul-Kandahar highway.  This incident officially put ISIS on the map in Afghanistan, and marked a significant sea change in the nature of the conflict there.


Russia Pulls UN Cover Off MH17 Propaganda

August 4, 2015 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - Russia's veto of the recent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution regarding the Malaysia Airlines MH17 disaster over Ukraine a year ago has garnered immediate condemnation across the West. Predictably, Russia has been decried as obstructing justice with language intentionally used to further heap guilt upon Moscow... which might perhaps be why Moscow itself had no faith in a UNSC resolution regarding MH17 to begin with.



In the wake of the veto, the BBC would report condemnation from the US to Europe to Australia, a familiar trifecta of allied special interests overtly arrayed against Moscow and predictably using the MH17 disaster now for over a year to advance their agenda against Russia. Australia's Foreign Minister Julia Bishop vowed to pursue "an alternative prosecution mechanism" with Malaysia, the Netherlands, Ukraine and Belgium, but stopped short of elaborating. It should be noted that Ukraine still stands as a possible suspect in the disaster, while Malaysia was originally excluded from initial investigations until after much protest, despite the doomed aircraft being registered in and operating from Malaysia.

The United States and Europe had from the beginning used the disaster politically, openly accusing Russia and anti-regime rebels in eastern Ukraine before any evidence surfaced and before any investigation was underway. With such an immediate, reckless abandonment of objectivity, how could any investigative body including such politically-motivated actors proceed with any credibility?

These are answers the Western media refuses to answer. Russia, with its veto, answers clearly. Such objective investigations are not possible. And while Russia disclosed the summation of its data regarding the MH17 disaster in the immediate aftermath, to this day information allegedly possessed by NATO members remains undisclosed.

The Fake War on ISIS: US and Turkey Escalate in Syria

August 3, 2015 (Eric Draitser - NEO) - It is late July 2015, and the media is abuzz with the news that Turkey will allow US jets to use its bases to bomb Islamic State (ISIS) targets in Syria. There is much talk about how this development is a “game-changer,” and how this is a clear escalation of the much ballyhooed, but more fictional than real, US war on ISIS: the terror organization that US intelligence welcomed as a positive development in 2012 in their continued attempts to instigate regime change against the Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad.


The western public is told that “This is a significant shift…It’s a big deal,” as a US military official told the Wall Street Journal. What the corporate media fail to mention, however, is the fact that Turkey has been, and continues to be, a central actor in the war in Syria and, consequently, in the development and maintenance of ISIS. So, while Washington waxes poetic about stepping up the fight against the terror group, and lauds the participation of its allies in Ankara, the barely concealed fact is that Turkey is merely further entrenching itself in a war that it has fomented.

Of equal importance is the simple fact that a “war on ISIS” is merely a pretext for Turkey’s military engagement in Syria and throughout the region. Not only does Turkey’s neo-Ottoman revanchist President Erdogan want to flex his military muscles in order to further the regime change agenda in Syria, he also is using recent tragic events as political and diplomatic cover for waging a new aggressive war against the region’s Kurds, especially Turkey’s longtime foe the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).

In this way, Turkey’s recent moves should be seen as merely a new phase of its engagement in the regional war that it has helped foment. Contrary to western corporate media talking points, Turkey has not just recently become actively engaged in the conflict; Ankara has merely shifted its strategy and its tactics, moving from covert engagement to overt participation.

Same War, New Phase

The immediate justification for the launching of renewed airstrikes by Turkey and the US is the expansion of the war against ISIS. In the wake of the bombing in Turkey’s majority Kurdish town of Suruç, which killed 32 youth activists, the Turkish government has allegedly struck hard against both ISIS and PKK targets. It is against this backdrop that any analysis of the new phase of this war must be presented.

First and foremost is the fact that even if one were to accept the Turkish government’s official story – the suicide bomber was linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) – not at all a certainty, the question of ultimate responsibility becomes central. While Ankara would have the world believe that its hands are clean, and that it is the innocent victim of international terrorism, the reality is that Turkey has done everything to foster and promote the growth of ISIS from the very beginning. As such, it is the Turkish government who must shoulder much of the blame for the Suruç bombing.


Russia Shoots Down US Stealth Coup

July 31, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Times are tough for America's "color revolution" industry. Perfected in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union, and honed during the so-called "Arab Spring," the process of backing subversion in a targeted country and overthrowing a sitting government under the cover of staged mass protests appears to be finally at the end of running its course.

Image: "No to Plunder's" core leaders are US-trained lawyers and activists. Because they are not overtly members of any specific US-funded group, the US believes it can maintain sufficient plausible deniability during the initial phases of political destabilization. Unfortunately for the US, Armenians suspected the US' role from the beginning, and America's more overt assets never had time to move into place before the protests fizzled out.  

That is because the United States can no longer hide the fact that it is behind these protests and often, even hide their role in the armed elements that are brought in covertly to give targeted governments their final push out the door. Nations have learned to identify, expose, and resist this tactic, and like Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime's tactic of Blitzkrieg or "lighting war," once appropriate countermeasures are found, the effectiveness of lighting fast, overwhelming force be it military or political, is rendered impotent.

This was most recently observed in Armenia during the so-called "Electric Yerevan" protests - Yerevan being the capital of Armenia, and "electric" in reference to the alleged motivation of protesters - rising electric prices.

American-backed "color revolutions" always start out with a seemingly legitimate motivation, but soon quickly become political in nature, sidestepping many of the legitimate, practical demands first made, and focusing almost entirely on "regime change." For the Armenian agitators leading the "Electric Yerevan," they didn't even make it that far and spent most of their initial momentum attempting to convince the world they were not just another US-backed mob.

The Stealth Coup 

Nikol Pashinyan and his "Civic Contract" party are transparently US-backed. So many found it suspicious that he was the most prominent voice insisting that the "Electric Yerevan" was not political and by no means a US-backed movement.

Verelq, an Armenian-based news website which inexplicably links to the US State Department's Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Armenian site, would report in their article, "Nikol Pashinyan: Protest actions in Yerevan are of exclusively social nature," that: 
“Even if you look at the ongoing processes through the microscope, you cannot see any foreign political or domestic political components in the demonstrations. People do not want electricity to grow in price. That’s all,” said Pashinyan. He said electric power is first of all a product: the Electric Networks sells it and the citizens buy it. “The protest actions should be considered as protection of consumers’ rights. Politics is nowhere near,” he said.
But politics were very near, including politicians like Pashinyan himself, who made it a point to visit jailed protesters throughout the failed uprising and even at one point called for the construction of a "human wall" of prominent Armenian personalities between protesters and police. US State Department-funded Armenia Now (of the New Times Journalist Training Center) reported in their article, "Politics in the Middle: Lawmakers, public figures form “human wall” between police, protesters," that:
The appeal to create a human wall was made by opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinyan late on Tuesday as he urged all former and current MPs, scholars, show-biz representatives, lawyers, reporters, religious representatives and other public figures to visit the standoff site in order to ensure no force is applied against the protesters.

Other obvious ties between the protests, Pashinyan, and US-backed NGOs have been laid out by geopolitical analyst Andrew Korybko in his article, "'Electric Yerevan' is Sliding Out of Control."

Despite these links, some have attempted to claim Pashinyan was merely an opportunist and that his US-backing, and attempts by US NGOs to manipulate the protests had little to do with the protests themselves. But nothing could be further from the truth.


China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion

July 25, 2015 (Eric Draitser - NEO) - China has recently taken an important step in more tightly regulating foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) inside the country. Despite condemnation from so called human rights groups in the West, China’s move should be understood as a critical decision to assert sovereignty over its own political space. Naturally, the shrill cries of “repression” and “hostility toward civil society” from western NGOs have done little to shake the resolve of Beijing as the government has recognized the critical importance of cutting off all avenues for political and social destabilization.



The predictable argument, once again being made against China’sOverseas NGO Management Law, is that it is a restriction on freedom of association and expression, and a means of stifling the burgeoning civil society sector in China. The NGO advocates portray this proposed legislation as another example of the violation of human rights in China, and further evidence of Beijing’s lack of commitment to them. They posit that China is moving to further entrench an authoritarian government by closing off the democratic space which has emerged in recent years.

However, amid all the hand-wringing about human rights and democracy, what is conveniently left out of the narrative is the simple fact that foreign NGOs, and domestic ones funded by foreign money, are, to a large extent, agents of foreign interests, and are quite used as soft power weapons for destabilization. And this is no mere conspiracy theory as the documented record of the role of NGOs in recent political unrest in China is voluminous. It would not be a stretch to say that Beijing has finally recognized, just as Russia has before it, that in order to maintain political stability and true sovereignty, it must be able to control the civil society space otherwise manipulated by the US and its allies.

‘Soft Power’ and the Destabilization of China
Joseph Nye famously defined ‘soft power’ as the ability of a country to persuade others and/or manipulate events without force or coercion in order to achieve politically desirable outcomes. And one of the main tools of modern soft power is civil society and the NGOs that dominate it. With financial backing from some of the most powerful individuals and institutions in the world, these NGOs use the cover of “democracy promotion” and human rights to further the agenda of their patrons. And China has been particularly victimized by precisely this sort of strategy.

Human Rights Watch, and the NGO complex at large, has condemned China’s Overseas NGO Management Law because they quite rightly believe that it will severely hamper their efforts to act independently of Beijing. However, contrary to the irreproachable expression of innocence that such organizations masquerade behind, the reality is that they act as a de facto arm of western intelligence agencies and governments, and they have played a central role in the destabilization of China in recent years.