The Second Vatican Council Explained:
More than one million people have been displaced, it has been claimed Reuters
By Patrick Cockburn
Exclusive: Many bodies are still buried under the rubble and the level of human suffering is ‘immense’, a top Kurdish official reading from latest intelligence reports tells Patrick Cockburn in the last of his special series on the last days of the caliphate
More than 40,000 civilians were killed in the devastating battle to retake Mosul from Isis, according to intelligence reports revealed exclusively to The Independent – a death toll far higher than previous estimates.
Residents of the besieged city were killed by Iraqi ground forces attempting to force out militants, as well as by air strikes and Isis fighters, according to Kurdish intelligence services.
Hoshyar Zebari, until recently a senior minister in Baghdad, told The Independent that many bodies “are still buried under the rubble”. “The level of human suffering is immense,” he said.
“Kurdish intelligence believes that over 40,000 civilians have been killed as a result of massive firepower used against them, especially by the federal police, air strikes and Isis itself,” Mr Zebari added.
Mr Zebari, a native of Mosul and top Kurdish official who has served as the Iraqi finance minister and prior to that foreign minister, emphasised in an exclusive interview that the unrelenting artillery bombardment by units of the Iraqi federal police, in practice a heavily armed military unit, had caused immense destruction and loss of life in west Mosul.
The figure given by Mr Zebari for the number of civilians killed in the nine-month siege is far higher than those previously reported, but the intelligence service of the Kurdistan Regional Government has a reputation for being extremely accurate and well-informed. Isis prevented any monitoring of casualties while outside groups have largely focused on air strikes rather than artillery and rocket fire as a cause of civilian deaths. Airwars, one such monitoring group, estimated that attacks may have killed 5,805 non-military personnel in the city between 19 February and 19 June.
(For embedded video go to Source)
Mr Zebari accuses the government in Baghdad, of which he was until recently a member, of not doing enough to relieve the suffering. “Sometimes you might think the government is indifferent to what has happened,” he said. He doubts if Christians, Yazidis, Kurds and other minorities, who have lived in and around Mosul for centuries, will be able to reconcile with the Sunni Arab majority whom they blame for killing and raping them. He says some form of federal solution for future governance would be best.
Reading from Kurdish intelligence reports, Mr Zebari says that a high level of corruption among the Iraqi military forces occupying Mosul is undermining security measures to suppress Isis in the aftermath of its defeat. He says that suspect individuals are able to pass through military checkpoints by paying $1,000 (£770) and can bring a vehicle by paying $1,500. He says corruption of this type is particularly rife in the 16th and 9th Iraqi army divisions and the Tribal Volunteers (Hashd al-Ashairi), drawn in part from the Shabak minority in the Nineveh Plain.
The ability of Isis militants to remain free or be released from detention by paying bribes has led to a change in attitude among people in Mosul whom Mr Zebari says “were previously willing to give information about Isis members to the Iraqi security forces”. They are now wary of doing so, because they see members of Isis, whom they had identified and who had been arrested, returning to the streets capable of exacting revenge on those who informed against them. Several anti-Isis people in Mosul have confirmed to The Independent that this is indeed the case and they are frightened of these returnees and Isis “sleeper cells” that continue to exist.
Destroyed buildings from clashes are seen in the Old City of Mosul (Reuters)
An elderly displaced Iraqi woman who fled from Isis militants carries a baby in Mosul(Reuters)
Civilians in Mosul say they do not fault the behaviour towards them of combat units that have borne the brunt of the fighting, such as the Counter-Terrorism Service, but they are concerned about what to expect from less well-disciplined troops. A belief that Isis fighters and officials detained in Mosul are later able to bribe their way free explains why soldiers, most of whom are not complicit in bribery networks, have summarily executed Isis prisoners, sometimes by throwing them off high buildings.
Corruption by the occupying military forces takes different forms, according to Kurdish intelligence information cited by Mr Zebari. Some people are “being charged $100 for removing a body from the rubble and others $500 to reoccupy their house”, where it is still standing. Iraqi army and militia units have always been notorious for exacting fees and protection money from civilians, with trucks moving goods on the roads being a particularly profitable target when they pass through military checkpoints.
Smoke rises from an air strike during a battle between Iraqi forces and Isis in west Mosul (Reuters)
Displaced people, who fled Isis, cross the bridge in Al-Muthanna neighbourhood of Mosul (Reuters)
Much of the blame for the calamitous level of destruction in west Mosul has been put on air strikes, but it is evident at ground level that a lot of the damage was caused by artillery shells and rockets. This is confirmed by an Amnesty International report issued last week titled At Any Cost: The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul, Iraq, which points to a greater and more indiscriminate use of its firepower by pro-government forces in the final stages of the attack on east Mosul, starting in January 2017 and continuing over the following six months during the assault on west Mosul. It says that Iraqi government and US-led coalition forces “relied heavily upon explosive weapons with wide area effects such as IRAMs (Improvised Rocket Assisted Munitions). With their crude targeting abilities, these weapons wreaked havoc in densely populated west Mosul, where large groups of civilians were trapped in homes or makeshift shelters”. The UN estimated that Mosul had 1.2 million inhabitants at the start of the siege.
In addition, Isis snipers killed great numbers of civilians trying to escape. The militant group was using civilians as “human shields”, though in the event their presence shielded very little. Mr Zebari said that intelligence had even intercepted messages “from Isis fighters to their commanders saying they were tired of killing civilians”.
Mr Zebari says that he is disappointed by the lack of Iraqi government plans to reconstruct Mosul. As finance minister in Baghdad until late last year, he had made provision for $500m in the budget for rebuilding Mosul. He says: “I wanted $500m upfront to encourage other donors, but now the government has withdrawn from the fund and used the money elsewhere. This was not an encouraging sign.”
(For embedded video go to Source)
Even if there is reconstruction, Mr Zebari, who grew up in Mosul and still has a house in the east of the city (though long confiscated, first by Saddam Hussein and later by Isis), laments that “the soul of Mosul has gone and its iconic buildings are destroyed”. He says he cannot imagine Mosul without the Nabi Yunus mosque (the tomb of Jonah) that Isis blew up as a heretical shrine in 2014 and the al-Nuri mosque, with its 12th century leaning minaret, which Isis destroyed in the last stage of the battleto prevent its capture by government forces. In addition, there is “an unimaginable level of human suffering with more than one million people displaced”.
He agrees that the government has won a big victory by destroying Isis as a state structure controlling extensive territory. But he warns that the militant group has shown that it is capable of “adapting themselves to new realities”. He says that the arms and heavy equipment from three Iraqi army divisions that Isis captured when it seized Mosul in June 2014 has never been fully accounted for. He says that there have been reports that much of it was hidden by Isis in tunnels, gorges and valleys in the arid wastelands of western Iraq and eastern Syria. “This is where they came from when they started their attacks,” he says.
(For more photos go to Source)
Asked if the self-declared caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is alive or dead, Mr Zebari said he did not know. But he added that, if Baghdadi was dead, it was strange that no new caliph or Isis leader had been declared since part of the ideology of such movements is that they do not rely on a single human being. Successors had been quickly announced when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, was killed in a US air strike in 2006 and Osama bin Laden was shot dead by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011. Moreover, he says that there “has been no sign of a change in the Isis command and control structure”.
A new document has come to light, which reveals how the United States is preparing for how to engage the world after the collapse of American hegemony.
Washington, D.C. – An enlightening new document has come to light, which clearly elicits exactly how the U.S. Department of Defense is preparing for the collapse of American hegemony, and the subsequent deterioration of the post-WWII international order created by the United States after the Second World War. The defense officials’ plans for how to engage the world in the coming years displays an extremely dystopian vision of the future.
The damning report out of the U.S. Army War College concludes that the current international order, held together by U.S. power, is “fraying” and potentially collapsing in the face of new threats to its current position of “primacy” in international relations.
But perhaps even more dangerous, is the proposed measure to maintain U.S. hegemony in this new “post-primacy” environment, including increased surveillance, widespread propaganda (“strategic manipulation of perceptions”) and increased military adventurism and expansion.
The harrowing document explains that the U.S. has entered into a new transformational phase in which its power is declining, the long-standing western international order is crumbling and governmental authority across the world is degrading.
According to a report by noted academic and geopolitical analyst Nafeez Ahmed, appearing in Medium:
“Having lost its past status of ‘pre-eminence,’ the U.S. now inhabits a dangerous, unpredictable ‘post-primacy’ world, whose defining feature is ‘resistance to authority.’
Danger comes not just from great power rivals like Russia and China, both portrayed as rapidly growing threats to American interests, but also from the increasing risk of “Arab Spring”-style events. These will erupt not just in the Middle East, but all over the world, potentially undermining trust in incumbent governments for the foreseeable future.
The report, based on a year-long intensive research process involving consultation with key agencies across the Department of Defense and U.S. Army, calls for the U.S. government to invest in more surveillance, better propaganda through ‘strategic manipulation’ of public opinion, and a ‘wider and more flexible’ U.S. military.
The report was published in June by the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute to evaluate the DoD’s approach to risk assessment at all levels of Pentagon policy planning. The study was supported and sponsored by the U.S. Army’s Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate; the Joint Staff, J5 (Strategy and Policy Branch); the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development; and the Army Study Program Management Office.”
The report from U.S. Army War College study pulls no punches, noting:
“While the United States remains a global political, economic, and military giant, it no longer enjoys an unassailable position versus state competitors.”
“In brief, the status quo that was hatched and nurtured by U.S. strategists after World War II and has for decades been the principal ‘beat’ for DoD is not merely fraying but may, in fact, be collapsing.”
The report succinctly describes the imperial nature of the western international order as as being underpinned by American dominance—with the United States and its allied nations literally “dictating” its terms to the rest of the world in order to further their own interests:
“The order and its constituent parts, first emerged from World War II, were transformed to a unipolar system with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and have by-and-large been dominated by the United States and its major Western and Asian allies since. Status quo forces collectively are comfortable with their dominant role in dictating the terms of international security outcomes and resist the emergence of rival centers of power and authority.”
It’s important to note that the era of U.S. hegemony is coming to an end. The study notes that U.S. officials “naturally feel an obligation to preserve the U.S. global position within a favorable international order,” concluding that the “rules-based global order that the United States built and sustained for 7 decades is under enormous stress.”
The study gives a succinct and detailed analysis of how, and why, the U.S. Department of Defense perceives the established order to be rapidly breaking down with U.S. defense planners at the Pentagon failing to keep pace with rapidly evolving international events.
The report elicits that “global events will happen faster than DoD is currently equipped to handle,” and concludes that the U.S. “can no longer count on the unassailable position of dominance, supremacy, or pre-eminence it enjoyed for the 20-plus years after the fall of the Soviet Union.”
The report notes that U.S. power projection is so weakened, that it can no longer even “automatically generate consistent and sustained local military superiority at range.”
The study clearly notes that it is not just U.S. power that is fading, as the U.S. Army War College study concludes that:
“[A]ll states and traditional political authority structures are under increasing pressure from endogenous and exogenous forces… The fracturing of the post-Cold War global system is accompanied by the internal fraying in the political, social, and economic fabric of practically all states.”
But, never one to give up on hegemonic ambitions, the DoD explains that this should not be seen as a failure, but simply a “wakeup call.” Should the U.S. fail to adjust to this new “post-primacy” environment, the complexity and speed of world events will “increasingly defy [DoD’s] current strategy, planning, and risk assessment conventions and biases.”
The Medium report notes that:
“Top on the list of forces that have knocked the U.S. off its position of global ‘pre-eminence,’ says the report, are the role of competing powers—major rivals like Russia and China, as well as smaller players like Iran and North Korea.
The document is particularly candid in setting out why the U.S. sees these countries as threats—not so much because of tangible military or security issues, but mainly because their pursuit of their own legitimate national interests is, in itself, seen as undermining American dominance.
Russia and China are described as ‘revisionist forces’ who benefit from the U.S.-dominated international order, but who dare to ‘seek a new distribution of power and authority commensurate with their emergence as legitimate rivals to U.S. dominance.’ Russia and China, the analysts say, ‘are engaged in a deliberate program to demonstrate the limits of U.S. authority, will, reach, influence, and impact.’”
Essentially, the report concludes that a U.S.-backed “status quo” international order is fundamentally “favorable” for the interests of the U.S. and its allies, and any movement toward a more multipolar global order that would act “favorably” for anyone else is a clear and present danger to U.S. power projection and economic interests.
Therefore, China and Russia “seek to reorder their position in the existing status quo in ways that—at a minimum—create more favorable circumstances for pursuit of their core objectives.”
Obviously, that is exactly what any self-respecting nation should be doing, but of course, the study’s authors emphasize that “a more maximalist perspective sees them pursuing advantage at the direct expense of the United States and its principal Western and Asian allies.”
This clearly denotes the extreme zero sum interpretation of power by U.S. analysts, as one nation’s gain automatically is denoted as a reduction in power for rival states—something that does not necessarily hold true, as two states can both gain influence and power without it relatively decreasing that of others.
Even more telling is that there is virtually zero substantive evidence in the document showing how the Chinese and Russians are posing a meaningful threat to the security of the United States.
In the most nebulous of terms, the analysts explain that the major challenge posed by China and Russia is that they “are bent on revising the contemporary status quo” utilizing “gray zone” techniques, involving “means and methods falling far short of unambiguous or open provocation and conflict.”
Both are accused of “murkier, less obvious forms of state-based aggression,” and despite not actually engaging in violence, both are condemned. Then in an ironic turn, the Pentagon report forwards the notion that the U.S. itself must also “go gray or go home” to ensure U.S. dominance.
Giving an insight behind the propaganda often fed to the American public, the study explains the actual reasons behind U.S. hostility to “revolutionary forces” like Iran and North Korea: they pose fundamental obstacles to U.S. imperial influence in those regions.
The Pentagon report notes that:
“… neither the products of, nor are they satisfied with, the contemporary order… At a minimum, they intend to destroy the reach of the U.S.-led order into what they perceive to be their legitimate sphere of influence. They are also resolved to replace that order locally with a new rule set dictated by them.”
Let that sink in for a moment.
Contrary to the public statements by U.S. government officials, that North Korea and Iran pose a nuclear threat to the United States, the study confirms that instead these nations are considered problematic to the imperial desires of the “U.S.-led order.”
This document contains some of the most damning admissions of U.S. imperial intent out of any U.S. Army document ever created:
“While as a rule, U.S. leaders of both political parties have consistently committed to the maintenance of U.S. military superiority over all potential state rivals, the post-primacy reality demands a wider and more flexible military force that can generate advantage and options across the broadest possible range of military demands. To U.S. political leadership, maintenance of military advantage preserves maximum freedom of action… Finally, it allows U.S. decision-makers the opportunity to dictate or hold significant sway over outcomes in international disputes in the shadow of significant U.S. military capability and the implied promise of unacceptable consequences in the event that capability is unleashed.”
In other words, as long as everyone in the states remains subservient to the U.S.-led western international order they won’t have regime change forced upon them. But for those that wish to project any type of influence—expect to have the full weight of the U.S. military applied in an effort to maintain primacy.
The U.S. essentially refuses to allow for a multipolar world in which other powerful states have a say in how the global political order manifests and will use force if necessary to maintain their dominant position in the world—consequences be damned.
If you are tired of seeing the U.S. act as the world police and think national defense doesn’t include regime change operations to install puppet governments, then please share this extremely important article to help others see the dangerous, and potentially deadly, writing on the wall!