Category Archives: Imperialism/World Order

The Sinister Agenda Behind the Washington War On Cash

1.01.2017 Author: F. William Engdahl

4213123312It’s kinda sneaking up on us like an East Texas copperhead pit viper. It began to get some wide attention in 2016, with prominent economists and financial media suddenly talking about the wonderful benefits of a “cashless society.” Then the government of Narenda Modi completely surprised his citizens by suddenly announcing withdrawal of larger denomination currency notes from circulation, forcing Indians to put their cash into banks or lose it. Now, everywhere we turn, it seems, someone is arguing the Nirvana benefits of a cashless, “digital” money world. It reminds me in an eerie way of a statement attributed to then US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger in the 1970’s. He reportedly stated, “If you control oil, you control entire nations; if you control food, you control the people; if you control money, you control the entire world.” Consider the following in this regard.

Modi and a USAID ‘Catalyst’

On November 8, 2016 in a surprise televised address, Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi announced that, within a deadline of days, all Indian currency notes of 500 and 1,000 Rupees must be put in a bank account and exchanged for smaller denomination notes. At today’s exchange rate 1,000 Rs is roughly equal to $15. This would perhaps be equivalent to the US Treasury outlawing all cash notes larger than a $10 bill.

Overnight, Modi’s government de facto outlawed an estimated 86 percent of all cash in circulation by value. People had 50 days to hand in the notes or they become worthless. Yet the government, despite stating it would issue new, more secure 500Rs and 1000Rs bills, had nowhere near the equivalent value of new notes ready for replacement. They say it may take up to a year to print enough, which means confiscation, de facto. Faked opinion polls with slanted questions done only via smart phone apps of which only 17% of the population has access, claimed that “90% of Indians approve” the demonetization.

Yet it’s far worse. India is an underdeveloped country, the largest in the world in population terms with more than 1.3 billion people. By demanding Indians turn in all 500Rs and 1,000Rs bills to banks, Modi is forcing major change in how Indians control their money in a country high on the corruption scale where few trust government let alone private banks, and prefer to deal strictly in cash or hoard gold for value. Nearly half the population, some 600 million Indians, do not hold a bank account and half of those, some 300 million Indians, lack a government identification, necessary to open an account.

When he presented his shock announcement, Modi pitched it in terms of going after India’s black economy. Soon he shifted gears and was praising the benefits of a “cash-less society” to enable Indians to enter the digital age, appealing to younger Indians, savvy in smart phones and digital networks, to convince the older of the benefits of online banking and consuming. The drastic demonetization declaration was planned by Modi and five other inner-circle ministers in complete secrecy. Not even the banks were told before. The question is what is behind, or rather who is behind this drastic form of monetary shock therapy?

Beyond Cash

The answer is as sinister as it is suggestive of a larger global agenda by what I call in one of my books the Wall Street “Gods of Money.” The Modi cash-less India operation is a project of the US National Security Council, US State Department and Office of the President administered through its US Agency for International Development (USAID). Little surprise, then, that the US State Department spokesman, Mark Toner in a December 1, 2016 press briefing praised the Modi demonetization move stating, “…this was, we believe, an important and necessary step to crack down on illegal actions…a necessary one to address the corruption.”

Keep in mind that USAID today has little to do with aiding poorer countries. By law it must follow the foreign policy agenda of the President’s National Security Council and State Department. It’s widely known as a conduit for CIA money to execute their dirty agendas abroad in places such as Georgia. Notably, the present head of the USAID, Gayle Smith, came to head USAID from her post as Senior Director at the US National Security Council.

German economist and blogger, Norbert Haering, in an extensive, well-documented investigation into the background of the bizarre Modi move to a cash-less India, found not only USAID as the key financial source of the project. He also uncovered a snake-pit of organizational vipers being funded by USAID to design and implement the India shock therapy.

USAID negotiated a co-operation with the Modi Indian Ministry of Finance. In October, 2016 in a press release USAID announced it had created and funded something it named Project Catalyst. The title of their report was, “Catalyst: Inclusive Cashless Payment Partnership.” Its stated goal it said was to bring about a “quantum leap” in cashless payment in India.

They certainly did that. Maybe two quantum leaps and some.

If we dig a bit deeper we find that in January, 2016, USAID presented the Indian Finance Ministry a report titled, Beyond Cash: Why India loves cash and why that matters for financial inclusion. Financial “inclusion” for them means getting all Indians into the digital banking system where their every payment can be electronically tracked and given to the tax authorities or to whomever the government sees fit.

Astonishingly, the report, prepared for USAID by something called the Global Innovation Exchange, admitted that “97% of retail transactions in India are conducted in cash or check; Few consumers use digital payments. Only 11% used debit cards for payments last year. Only 6% of Indian merchants accept digital payments…Only 29 percent of bank accounts in India have been used in the last three months.” The US and Indian governments knew very well what shock they were detonating in India.

The Global Innovation Exchange includes such dubious member organizations as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a major donor to the Modi war on cash initiative of USAID. It also includes USAID itself, several UN agencies including UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR. And it includes the US Department of Commerce and a spooky Maclean, Virginia military contractor called MITRE Corporation whose chairman is former CIA Director, James Rodney Schlesinger, a close associate of Henry Kissinger.

The USAID Project Catalyst in partnership with the Indian Finance Ministry was done, according to the USAID press statement, with a sinister-sounding organization called CashlessCatalyst.org. Among the 35 members of CashlessCatalyst.org are USAID, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, VISA, MasterCard, Omidyar Network of eBay billionaire founder Pierre Omidyar, the World Economic Forum-center of the globalization annual Alpine meetings.

War on Cash

However, a most interesting member of the USAID Project Catalyst together with the Indian Ministry of Finance is something called Better Than Cash Alliance. In point of fact the US-government-finance Project Catalyst grew out of a longer cooperation between USAID, the Washington-based Better Than Cash Alliance and the Indian Ministry of Finance. It appers to be the core public driver pushing the agenda of the global “war on cash.”

India and the reckless (or corrupt) Modi government implementing the USAID-Better Than Cash Alliance agenda is clearly serving as a guinea pig in a mass social experiment about how to push the cash war in other countries. The Better Than Cash Alliance is described by the UNCDF, which is its Secretariat, as “a US $38 million global alliance of governments, private sector and development organizations committed to accelerating the shift from cash to electronic payments.”

The Better Than Cash Alliance website announces that the alliance, created in 2012, is a “partnership of governments, companies, and international organizations that accelerates the transition from cash to digital payments in order to reduce poverty and drive inclusive growth.” It’s housed at the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in New York whose major donors, in turn, surprise, surprise, are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MasterCard Foundation. Among the Better Than Cash Alliance’s 50 members are, in addition to the Gates Foundation, Citi Foundation (Citigroup), Ford Foundation, MasterCard, Omidyar Network, United States Agency for International Development, and Visa Inc.

Recently the European Central Bank, which has held negative interest rates for more than a year, allegedly to stimulate growth in the Eurozone amid the long-duration banking and economic crisis of almost nine years, announced that it will stop printing the €500 note. They claim it’s connected with money laundering and terror financing, though it ominously echoes the Modi India war on cash. Former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, whose shady role in the 1990’s rape of Russia through his Harvard cronies has been documented elsewhere, is calling for eliminating the US $100 bill. These are first steps to future bolder moves to the desired Cash-less society of Gates, Citigroup, Visa et al.

US Dual Standard: Follow the money…

The move to a purely digital money system would be Big Brother on steroids. It would allow the relevant governments to monitor our every money move with a digital trail, to confiscate deposits in what now are legal bank “bail-ins” as was done in Cyprus in 2013. If central banks move interest rates into negative, something the Bank of Japan and ECB in Frankfurt are already doing, citizens have no choice than to spend the bank money or lose. It is hailed as a way to end tax avoidance but it is far, far more sinister.

As Norbert Haering notes, “the status of the dollar as the world’s currency of reference and the dominance of US companies in international finance provide the US government with tremendous power over all participants in the formal non-cash financial system. It can make everybody conform to American law rather than to their local or international rules.” He adds, referring to the recent US Government demand that Germany’s largest bank, Deutsche Bank pay an astonishing and unprecedented $14 billion fine, “Every internationally active bank can be blackmailed by the US government into following their orders, since revoking their license to do business in the US or in dollar basically amounts to shutting them down.”

We should add to this “benevolent concern” of the US Government to stimulate a War on Cash in India and elsewhere the fact that while Washington has been the most aggressive demanding that banks in other countries enact measures for full disclosure of details of Swiss or Panama or other “offshore” secret account holders or US nationals holding money in foreign banks, the USA itself has scrupulously avoided demanding the same of its domestic banks. The result, as Bloomberg noted following the suspiciously-timed Panama Papers offshore “leaks” of May, 2016, is that the United States is rapidly becoming the world’s leading tax and secrecy haven for rich foreigners.

Perversely enough, in 2010 the US passed a law, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FACTA, that requires financial firms to disclose foreign accounts held by US citizens and report them to the US IRS tax office or the foreign banks face steep penalties. The EU signed on to the intrusive FACTA despite strong resistance. Then, using FACTA as the model, the Paris-based OECD drafted an even tougher version of FACTA in 2014 to allegedly go after tax avoiders. To date 97 countries have agreed to the tough OECD bank disclosure rules. Very few have refused. The refusers include Bahrain, Nauru, Vanuatu—and…the United States.

World’s Biggest Tax Haven

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, a financial wizard or a Meyer Lansky to see a pattern. Washington forces disclosure of secret bank accounts of its citizens or companies abroad, while at the same time lifting control or disclosure inside the United States of private banking accounts. No surprise that such experienced private bankers as London’s Rothschild & Co. have opened offices in Reno Nevada a stone’s throw from Harrah’s and other casinos, and according to Bloomberg, is doing a booming business moving the fortunes of wealthy foreign clients out of offshore havens such as Bermuda, or Switzerland which are subject to the new OECD international disclosure requirements, into Rothschild-run trusts in Nevada, which are exempt from those disclosure rules.

Rothschild & Co. Director, Andrew Penney noted that as a result, the United States today, “is effectively the biggest tax haven in the world.” Today Nevada, Meyer Lansky’s money laundering project of the 1930’s with established legalized gambling, is becoming the “new Switzerland.” Wyoming and South Dakota are close on the heels.

One area where America’s institutions are still world class is in devising complex instruments of financial control, asset theft and cyber warfare. The US War on Cash, combined with the US Treasury and IRS war on offshore banking is their latest model. As Washington’s War on Terror had a sinister, hidden agenda, so too does Washington’s War on Cash. It’s something to be avoided at all costs if we human beings are to retain any vestige of sovereignty or autonomy. It will be interesting to see how vigorously Casino mogul Trump moves to close the US tax haven status. What do you bet he doesn’t?

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
http://journal-neo.org/2017/01/21/the-sinister-agenda-behind-the-washington-war-on-cash/

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Washington’s ‘Pivot to Asia’: A Debacle Unfolding

United-States-US-Military-Bases-Asia-1-400x273

In 2012 President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter launched a new chapter in their quest for global dominance:  a realignment of policies designed to shift priorities from the Middle East to Asia.  Dubbed the ‘Pivot to Asia’, it suggested that the US would concentrate its economic, military and diplomatic resources toward strengthening its dominant position and undercutting China’s rising influence in the region.

The ‘pivot to Asia’ did not shift existing resources from the Middle East, it added military commitments to the region, while provoking more conflicts with Russia and China.

The “pivot to Asia” meant that the US was extending and deepening its regional military alliances in order to confront and encircle Russia and China.  The goal would be to cripple their economies and foster social unrest leading to political instability and regime change.

The US onslaught for greater empire depended on the cooperation of proxies and allies to accomplish its strategic goals.

The so-called ‘pivot to Asia’ had a two-pronged approach, based on an economic trading pact and various military treaty agreements.  The entire US strategy of retaining global supremacy depended on securing and enhancing its control over its regional allies and proxies.  Failure of the Obama regime to retain Washington’s vassal states would accelerate its decline and encourage more desperate political maneuvers.

Strategic Military Posturing

Without a doubt, every military decision and action made by the Obama Administration with regard to the Asia-Pacific Region has had only one purpose – to weaken China’s defense capabilities, undermine its economy and force Beijing to submit to Washington’s domination.

In pursuit of military supremacy, Washington has installed an advanced missile system in South Korea, increased its air and maritime armada and expanded its provocative activities along China’s coastline and its vital maritime trade routes.  Washington has embarked on a military base expansion campaign in Australia, Japan and the Philippines.

This explains why Washington pressured its client regime in Manila under the former President ‘Nonoy’ Aquino, Jr., to bring its territorial dispute with China over the Spratly Islands before a relatively obscure tribunal in Holland.  The European ruling, unsurprisingly in favor of Manila, would provide the US with a ‘legal’ cover for its planned aggression against China in the South China Sea.  The Spratly and Paracel Islands are mostly barren coral islands and shoals located within the world’s busiest shipping trade routes, explaining China’s (both Beijing and Taipei) refusal to recognize the ‘Court of Special Arbitration’.

Strategic Economic Intervention: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The US authored and promoted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) is a trade and investment agreement covering 12 Pacific countries designed to ensure US regional dominance while deliberately cutting out China.  The TPP was to be the linchpin of US efforts to promote profits for overseas US multi-nationals by undercutting the rules for domestic producers, labor laws for workers and environmental regulations for consumers.  As a result of its unpopular domestic provisions, which had alienated US workers and consumers, the electorate forced both Presidential candidates to withdraw their support for the TPP – what one scribbler for the Financial Times denounced as “the dangers of popular democracy”.  The Washington empire builders envisioned the TPP as a tool for dictating and enforcing their ‘rules’ on a captive Asia-Pacific trading system.  From the perspective of US big business, the TPP was the instrument of choice for retaining supremacy in Asia by excluding China.

The Eclipse of Washington’s “Asian Century”

For over seventy years the US has dominated Asia, ravaging the continent with two major wars  in Korea and Indo-China with millions of casualties, and multiple counter-insurgency interventions in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Timor, Myanmar, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The strategic goal has been to expand its military and political power, exploit the economies and resources and encircle China and North Korea.

Under the Obama-Clinton-Kerry Regime, the imperial structures in Asia are coming apart.

Washington’s anti-China TPP is collapsing and has been replaced by the Chinese sponsored Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with over fifty member countries worldwide, including the ten nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASAEN), plus Australia, India, South Korea and New Zealand.  Of course, China is funding most of the partnership and, to no one’s surprise, Washington has not been invited to join…

As a result of the highly favorable terms in the RCEP, each and every current and former US ally and colony has been signing on, shifting trade allegiances to China, and effectively changing the configuration of power.

Already Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Indonesia have formalized growing economic ties with China.  The debacle of the TPP has just accelerated the shift toward China’s new trade pact (RCEP).  The US is left to rely on its ‘loyalist four’, a stagnant Japan, Australia, South Korea and its impoverished former colony, Philippines, to bolster its quest to militarily encircle China.

The Dangers of ‘Popular Democracy’: President Duterte’s Pivot to China and the End of US Supremacy in SE Asia?

For over a century (since the invasion of the Philippines in 1896), especially since the end of WWII, when the US asserted its primacy in Asia, Washington has used the strategic Philippine Archipelago as a trampoline for controlling Southeast Asia.  Control of the Philippines is fundamental to US Imperialism: Washington’s strategic superiority depends on its access to sea, air, communications and ground bases and operations located in the Philippines and a compliant Philippine ruling class..

The centerpiece of US strategy to encircle and tighten control over China’s maritime routes to and from the world-economy is the massive build-up of US military installations in the Philippines.

The US self-styled “pivot to Asia” involves locating five military bases directed at dominating the South China Sea.  The Pentagon expanded its access to four strategic air and one military base through the ‘Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement’ signed by the Philippine President Aquino in 2014 but held up by the Philippine Courts until April 2016.  These include:

(1) Antonio Bautista Airbase on the island of Palawan, located near the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

(2) Basa Airbase 40 miles northwest of the Philippines capital of Manila, overlooking the South China Sea.

(3) Lumbia Airbase located in the port of Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, a huge US facility under construction.

(4) Mactan – Benito Ebuen airbase located on Mactan Island off the coast of Cebu in the central Philippines.

(5) Fort Magsaysay located in Nueva Ecija, on Luzon, the Philippine Army’s Central Training and command center, its largest military installation which will serve the US as the training and indoctrination base for the Philippine army.

Pentagon planners had envisioned targeting Chinese shipping and air bases in the South China Sea from its new bases on western shores of the Philippines.  This essentially threatens the stability of the entire region, especially the vital Chinese trade routes to the global economy.

Washington has been intensifying its intervention in the South China Sea relying on decrees issued by its previous proxy President Benigno (Noynoy) Aquino, III (2010-2016).  These, however, were not ratified by the Congress and had been challenged by the Philippine Supreme Court.

Washington’s entire “pivot to Asia” has centered its vast military build-up on its access to the Philippines.  This access is now at risk.  Newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte, who succeeded Aquino in June 2016, is pursuing an independent foreign policy, with the aim of transforming the impoverished Philippines from a subservient US military colony to opening large-scale, long-term economic trade and development ties with China and other regional economic powers.  Duterte has openly challenged the US policy of using the Philippines to encircle and provoke China.

The Philippine “pivot to China” quickly advanced from colorful rhetoric to a major trade and investment meeting of President Duterte and a huge delegation of Philippine business leaders with his Chinese counterparts in Beijing in late October 2016.  During his first 3 months in office Duterte blasted Washington for meddling in his ongoing campaign against drug lords and dealers.  Obama’s so-called ‘concerns for human rights’ in the anti-drug campaign were answered with counter-charges that the US had accommodated notorious narco-politician-oligarchs to further its military base expansion program.  President Duterte’s war on drugs expanded well beyond the alleged US narco-elite alliance when he proposed two strategic changes: (1) he promised to end the US-Philippine sea patrols of disputed waters designed to provoke Beijing in the South China Sea; and (2) President Duterte announced he would end military exercises with Washington, especially in Mindanao, because they threatened China and undermined Philippine sovereignty.

President Duterte, in pursuit of his independent nationalist-agenda, has moved rapidly and decisively to strengthen the Philippines ‘pivot’ toward China, which in the context of Southeast Asia is really ‘normalizing’ trade and investment relations with his giant neighbor.  During the third week of October (2016) President Duterte, his political team and 250 business leaders met with China’s leaders to discuss multi-billion-dollar investment projects and trade agreements, as well as closer diplomatic relations.  The initial results, which promise to expand even more, are over $13 billion dollars in trade and critical infrastructure projects.  As the Philippine’s pivot to China advances, the quid pro quo will lead to a profound change in the politics and militarization of Southeast Asian.  Without total US control over the Philippines, Washington’s strategic arc of encirclement against China is broken.

According to a recent ruling by the Philippine Supreme Court, the controversial US military base agreement (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) imposed by the former President Aquino by fiat without congressional ratification can be terminated by the new President by executive order.  This ruling punches some major holes in what the Pentagon had considered its ‘ironclad’ stranglehold on the strategic Philippine bases.

The Duterte government has repeatedly announced its administration’s commitment to a program of economic modernization and social reconstruction for Philippine society.  That agenda can only be advanced through changes that include multi-billion dollar infrastructure investments, loans and technical cooperation from China, whereas remaining a backward US military colony will not only threaten their Asian economic partners, but will condemn the Philippines to yet another generation of stagnation and corruption.  Unique in Southeast Asia, the Philippines has long been mired in underdevelopment, forcing half of its qualified workforce to seek contract servitude abroad, while at home the society has become victims of drug and human trafficking gangs linked to the oligarchs.

Conclusion

Washington’s ‘pivot to Asia’, enshrined in its effort to corral the Asian countries into its anti-China crusade is not going as the Obama-Clinton-Kerry team had envisioned.  It is proving to be a major foreign policy debacle for the outgoing and (presumably) incoming US presidential administrations.  Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton has been forced to denounce the Transpacific Trade Partnership (TPP), one of her own pet projects when she was Secretary of State.  The Pentagon’s military base strategy stuck in a 1980’s time-warped vision of Southeast Asia is on the verge of imploding.    The Philippines, its former colony and vassal state, is finally turning away from its total subservience to US military dictates and toward greater independence and stronger regional ties to China and the rest of Asia.  Southeast Asia and the South China Sea are no longer part of a grand chessboard subject to Pentagon moves for domination.

In desperation, Washington may decide to resort to a military power grab– a coup in the Philippines, backed by a coalition of Manila-based oligarchs, narco-bosses and generals.  The problem with a precipitate move to ‘regime change’ is that Rodrigo Duterte is immensely popular with the Philippine electorate – precisely for the reasons that the Washington elite and Manila oligarchs despise him.  The mayor of Manila, Joseph Estrada, himself a former victim of a Washington-instigated regime change, has stated that any US backed coup will face a million-member mass opposition and the bulk of the nationalist middle and powerful Chinese-oriented business class.  A failed coup, like the disastrous coup in Venezuela in 2002 against Hugo Chavez could radicalize Duterte’s policy well beyond his staunchly nationalist agenda and further isolate the US.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/washingtons-pivot-to-asia-a-debacle-unfolding/5552830

See James Petras latest book from Clarity Press: ISBN: 978-0-9972870-5-9, $24.95 / 252 pp. / 2016 http://www.claritypress.com/PetrasVIII.html

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Britain’s Seven Covert Wars:

RAF Drones, Embedded SAS Forces, Training of Jihadists,

England

Britain is fighting at least seven covert wars in the Middle East and North Africa, outside of any democratic oversight or control. Whitehall has in effect gone underground, with neither parliament nor the public being allowed to debate, scrutinise or even know about these wars.

To cover themselves, Ministers are now often resorting to lying about what they are authorising. While Britain has identified Islamic State (among others) as the enemy abroad, it is clear that it sees the British public and parliament as the enemy at home.

Syria

Britain began training Syrian rebel forces from bases in Jordan in 2012. This was also when the SAS was reported to be ‘slipping into Syria on missions’ against Islamic State. Now, British special forces are ‘mounting hit and run raids against IS deep inside eastern Syria dressed as insurgent fighters’ and ‘frequently cross into Syria to assist the New Syrian Army’ from their base in Jordan. British special forces also provide training, weapons and other equipment to the New Syrian Army.

British aircraft began covert strikes against IS targets in Syria in 2015, months before Parliament voted in favour of overt action in December 2015. These strikes were conducted by British pilots embedded with US and Canadian forces.

Britain has also been operating a secret drone warfare programme in Syria. Last year Reaper drones killed British IS fighters in Syria, again before parliament approved military action. As I have previously argued, British covert action and support of the Syrian rebels is, along with horrific Syrian government/Russian violence, helping to prolong a terrible conflict.

Iraq

Hundreds of British troops are officially in Iraq to train local security forces. But they are also engaged in covert combat operations against IS. One recent report suggests that Britain has more than 200 special force soldiers in the country, operating out of a fortified base within a Kurdish Peshmerga camp south of Mosul.

British Reaper drones were first deployed over Iraq in 2014 and are now flown remotely by satellite from an RAF base in Lincolnshire. Britain has conducted over 200 drones strikes in Iraq since November 2014.

Libya

SAS forces have been secretly deployed to Libya since the beginning of this year, working with Jordanian special forces embedded in the British contingent. This follows a mission by MI6 and the RAF in January to gather intelligence on IS and draw up potential targets for air strikes. British commandos are now reportedly fighting and directing assaults on Libyan frontlines and running intelligence, surveillance and logistical support operations from a base in the western city of Misrata.

But a team of 15 British forces are also reported to be based in a French-led multinational military operations centre in Benghazi, eastern Libya, supporting renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar. In July 2016, Middle East Eye reported that this British involvement was helping to coordinate air strikes in support of Haftar, whose forces are opposed to the Tripoli-based government that Britain is supposed to be supporting.

Yemen

The government says it has no military personnel based in Yemen. Yet a report by Vice News in April, based on numerous interviews with officials, revealed that British special forces in Yemen, who were seconded to MI6, were training Yemeni troops fighting Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and also had forces infiltrated in AQAP. The same report also found that British military personnel were helping with drone strikes against AQAP. Britain was playing ‘a crucial and sustained role with the CIA in finding and fixing targets, assessing the effect of strikes, and training Yemeni intelligence agencies to locate and identify targets for the US drone program’. In addition, the UK spybase at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire facilitates US drone strikes in Yemen.

Britain has been widely reported (outside the mainstream media) as supporting the brutal Saudi war in Yemen, which has caused thousands of civilian deaths, most of them due to Saudi air strikes. Indeed, Britain is party to the war. The government says there are around 100 UK military personnel based in Saudi Arabia including a ‘small number’ at ‘Saudi MOD and Operational Centres’. One such Centre, in Riyadh, coordinates the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen and includes British military personnel who are in the command room as air strikes are carried out and who have access to the bombing targets.

The UK is of course arming the Saudi campaign: The British government disclosed on 13 October that the Saudis have used five types of British bombs and missiles in Yemen. On the same day, it lied to Parliament that Britain was ‘not a party’ to the war in Yemen.

A secret ‘memorandum of understanding’ that Britain signed with Saudi Arabia in 2014 has not been made public since it ‘would damage the UK’s bilateral relationship’ with the Kingdom, the government states. It is likely that this pact includes reference to the secret British training of Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia, which has taken place since mid-2015. Operating from a desert base in the north of the country, British forces have been teaching Syrian forces infantry skills as part of a US-led training programme.

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, the public was told that British forces withdrew at the end of 2014. However, British forces stayed behind to help create and train an Afghan special forces unit. Despite officially only having ‘advisors’ in Afghanistan, in August 2015 it was reported that British covert forces were fighting IS and Taliban fighters. The SAS and SBS, along with US special forces, were ‘taking part in military operations almost every night’ as the insurgents closed in on the capital Kabul.

In 2014, the government stated that it had ended its drone air strikes programme in Afghanistan, which had begun in 2008 and covered much of the country. Yet last year it was reported that British special forces were calling in air strikes using US drones.

Pakistan and Somalia

Pakistan and Somalia are two other countries where Britain is conducting covert wars. Menwith Hill facilitates US drone strikes against jihadists in both countries, with Britain’s GCHQ providing ‘locational intelligence’ to US forces for use in these attacks.

The government has said that it has 27 military personnel in Somalia who are developing the national army and supporting the African Union Mission. Yet in 2012 it was reported that the SAS was covertly fighting against al-Shabab Islamist terrorists in Somalia, working with Kenyan forces in order to target leaders. This involved up to 60 SAS soldiers, close to a full squadron, including Forward Air Controllers who called in air strikes against al-Shabab targets by the Kenyan air force. In early 2016, it was further reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah, whose troops operate with UK special forces, was saying that his troops were ready with Britain and Kenya to go ‘over the border’ to attack al-Shabaab.

Drones

The RAF’s secret drone war, which involves a fleet of 10 Reaper drones, has been in permanent operation in Afghanistan since October 2007, but covertly began operating outside Afghanistan in 2014. The NGO Reprieve notes that Britain provides communications networks to the CIA ‘without which the US would not be able to operate this programme’. It says that this is a particular matter of concern as the US covert drone programme is illegal.

The Gulf

Even this may not be the sum total of British covert operations in the region. The government stated in 2015 that it had 177 military personnel embedded in other countries’ forces, with 30 personnel working with the US military. It is possible that these forces are also engaged in combat in the region. For example, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, has said that in the Gulf, British pilots fly US F18s from the decks of US aircraft carriers. This means that ‘US’ air strikes might well be carried out by British pilots.

Britain has many other military and intelligence assets in the region. Files leaked by Edward Snowden show that Britain has a network of three GCHQ spy bases in Oman – codenamed ‘Timpani’, ‘Guitar’ and ‘Clarinet’ – which tap in to various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf. These bases intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, which information is then shared with the National Security Agency in the US.

The state of Qatar houses the anti-IS coalition’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Al Udeid airbase. The government says it has seven military personnel ‘permanently assigned to Qatar’ and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ working at the airbase. These are likely to be covert forces; the government says that ‘we do not discuss specific numbers for reasons of safeguarding operational security’.

Similarly, the government says it has six military personnel ‘permanently assigned’ to the United Arab Emirates and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ at the UAE’s Al Minhad airbase. Britain also has military assets at Manama harbour, Bahrain, whose repressive armed forces are also being secretly trained by British commandos.

Kenya and Turkey

Kenya hosts Britain’s Kahawa Garrishon barracks and Laikipia Air Base, from where thousands of troops who carry out military exercises in Kenya’s harsh terrain can be deployed on active operations in the Middle East. Turkey has also offered a base for British military training. In 2015, for example, Britain deployed several military trainers to Turkey as part of the US-led training programme in Syria, providing small arms, infantry tactics and medical training to rebel forces.

The web of deceit

When questioned about these covert activities, Ministers have two responses. One is to not to comment on special forces’ operations. The other is to lie, which has become so routine as to be official government policy. The reasoning is simple – the government believes the public simply has no right to know of these operations, let alone to influence them.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told parliament in July that the government is ‘committed to the convention that before troops are committed to combat the House of Commons should have an opportunity to debate the matter’. This is plainly not true, as the extent of British covert operations show.

Similarly, it was first reported in May that British troops were secretly engaged in combat in Libya. This news came two days after Fallon told MPs that Britain was not planning ‘any kind of combat role’ to fight IS in Libya.

There are many other examples of this straightforward web of deceit. In July 2016, the government issued six separate corrections to previous ministerial statements in which they claimed that Saudi Arabia is not targeting civilians or committing war crimes in Yemen. However, little noticed was that these corrections also claimed that ‘the UK is not a party’ to the conflict in Yemen. This claim is defied by various news reports in the public domain.

British foreign policy is in extreme mode, whereby Ministers do not believe they should be accountable to the public. This is the very definition of dictatorship. Although in some of these wars, Britain is combatting terrorist forces that are little short of evil, it is no minor matter that several UK interventions have encouraged these very same forces and prolonged wars, all the while being regularly disastrous for the people of the region. Britain’s absence of democracy needs serious and urgent challenging.

www.markcurtis.info – twitter – @markcurtis30

http://www.globalresearch.ca/britains-seven-covert-wars-raf-drones-embedded-sas-forces-training-of-jihadists/5551086

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Filed under Antiwar, Coverups/False Flag Operation, Imperialism/World Order