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For US, more at stake in Bahrain than base alone

For US, more at stake in Bahrain than base alone

AFP
February 20, 2011

As political unrest shakes its tiny Gulf ally Bahrain, much more is at stake for the United States than just the fate of the US Fifth Fleet’s base, analysts said.

Also in play are Washington’s extensive strategic ties with Bahrain’s influential oil-rich neighbor Saudi Arabia and efforts by US arch-foe Iran to spread its influence from across the Gulf, they said.

In many ways, the unrest in Bahrain “is much more dangerous” for the US than the current state of affairs in Egypt, more than a week after mass protests forced president Hosni Mubarak to step down, said analyst Aaron David Miller.

To be sure, Egypt has greater weight than Bahrain, said Miller, a former State Department analyst and negotiator who is now an analyst with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

It is the largest and most powerful Arab state, has a peace treaty with Israel and receives $1.3 billion in US military aid each year.

And the Egyptian-US alliance remains intact, at least for now.

However, Bahrain’s vulnerability “to more convulsive change and the impact that it could have vis-a-vis Arab policy for Iran, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf makes it … a more hot-button issue right now,” Miller told AFP.

The Sunni Arab leaders of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, who govern over restive Shiite Arab populations near Shiite but non-Arab Iran, fear Washington’s push for reform will sow greater instability, said analyst Patrick Clawson.

They strongly opposed Washington’s pressure on Egypt for a transition to democracy to ease out Mubarak, according to Clawson, deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“The perception in the (Gulf) region is that democracy means either the complete chaos you had in Iraq or else the stasis and bickering you had in Kuwait,” he said.

And if needed, the Saudis may be prepared to repeat their intervention in Bahrain in the 1990s, when they sent armored personnel carriers across the causeway linking the neighbors.

“So the Saudis are in a position to ensure that things don’t get out of hand in Bahrain and they are of a mind to do that. That is a powerful constraint to what the United States can do under these circumstances,” Clawson said.

The course of events could put a strain on the US-Saudi strategic relationship, which involves US military bases and billions of dollars in US weapons sales, as well as close cooperation on regional diplomacy and counter-terrorism.

Bahrain, fearing Iran’s meddling, may continue taking a tough line toward unrest, although Bahraini security forces withdrew Saturday from a Manama square that had been the focal point of bloody anti-regime protests.

The implications of the apparently conciliatory move were not immediately clear.

“The Gulf rulers will be petrified that there is an Iranian influence in all of this, but I think the Iranians will be pretty incompetent” in trying to gain influence in the region, Clawson said, noting that will not prevent them from making a “good attempt” to do so.

What’s more, he said, Arab Shiites increasingly look to their own leaders rather than Iran for guidance.

Nonetheless, analysts expressed concern about Iran.

“The issue of Iran is critical. What is a good outcome for us?” Miller asked.

“Here you have Iranian access to that Shia majority. You could argue that an Iraq-like outcome is not out of the question,” he continued, referring to how Shiites now dominate affairs in Baghdad with some backed by Iran.

Michelle Dunne, a former Middle East specialist at the State Department, agreed that the Saudis would have a hard time accepting political change in Bahrain and that the Iranians would try to exploit instability there.

“The Bahraini problem is definitely a home-grown problem,” said Dunne, now a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“This is not Iran manipulating the politics of an Arab state, but the Bahraini Shia are desperate. They will accept support from where they can get it.”

As for the naval base, analysts said its presence is not currently the focus of Shiite-driven protests, though it could develop as such if protesters eventually succeed in changing the government.

“At some point, that’s going to be rethought… whether it’s appropriate to have a US naval base there or not,” said Dunne.

Anthony Cordesman, a former Defense Department intelligence analyst, said the US base in Bahrain is “very important” in light of the “steady buildup” by the naval branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards over the past decade.

 



Agent who lied about WMD in Iraq faces jail sentence

Agent who lied about WMD in Iraq faces jail sentence

Guardian
February 16, 2011


Curveball, aka Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi

A German politician has warned that the CIA informant Curveball could go to jail after telling the Guardian that he lied about Saddam Hussein’s bioweapons capability in order to “liberate” Iraq.

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, who was given the name Curveball by his US and German handlers, told the German secret service that Iraq had a secret biological weapons programme.

The 43-year-old defector’s evidence was then passed to the CIA and became the primary source used by the US to justify invading Iraq.

Politicians in Iraq called for Curveball’s permanent exile following his admission and poured scorn on his claim to want to return to his motherland and build a political party. “He is a liar, he will not serve his country,” said one Iraqi MP.

In his adopted home of Germany, MPs are demanding to know why the German secret service paid Curveball £2,500 a month for at least five years after they knew he had lied.

Hans-Christian Ströbele, a Green MP, said Janabi had arguably violated a German law which makes warmongering illegal. He added that Gerhard Schröder, German chancellor around the time of the second Iraq war, should also reveal what he knew about the quality of evidence Curveball gave to Germany’s secret service, the BND.

Under German constitutional law, it is a criminal offence to do anything “with the intent to disturb the peaceful relations between nations, especially anything that leads to an aggressive war”, said Ströbele. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment, he said, adding that he did not expect it would ever come to that.

The MP said he would table a question to the Bundestag demanding to know whether the German secret service knew that Curveball was lying before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Schröder famously refused to join the “coalition of the willing” who took part in the second Iraq war.

Curveball told the Guardian he was pleased to have finally told the truth but that he was scared of the consequences. He said he had given the Guardian’s phone number to his wife and brother in Sweden “just in case something happens to me”.

In the US, questions are being asked of the CIA’s handling of Curveball and specifically why the then head of the intelligence agency, George Tenet, did not pass on German warnings about Curveball’s reliability.

Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to the US secretary of state Colin Powell in the build-up to the invasion, said Curveball’s lies raised questions about how the CIA had briefed Powell ahead of his crucial speech to the UN security council, where he presented the case for war.

Tyler Drumheller, head of the CIA’s Europe division in the run-up to the 2003 invasion, said he welcomed Curveball’s confession because he had always warned Tenet that Curveball may have been a fabricator. But the harshest criticism came from Iraq.

Jamal al-Battikh, the country’s minister for tribes’ affairs, said: “Honestly, this man led Iraq to a catastrophe and a disaster. Iraqis paid a heavy price for his lies – the invasion of 2003 destroyed Iraqi basic infrastructure and after eight years we cannot fix electricity. Plus thousands of Iraqis have died. This man is not welcome back. In fact, Iraqis should complain against him and sue him for his lies.”

Others poured scorn on Curveball’s plan to return to Iraq and enter politics.

Intefadh Qanber, spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress (INC), led by Ahmed Chalabi, said: “He is a liar, he will not serve his country. He fabricated the story about WMD and that story gave the USA a suitable pretext to lead the 2003 invasion, which hurt Iraq. For most Iraqis, it was obvious that Saddam was a dictator, but they wanted to see him ousted on the basis of his crimes against human rights, not a fabricated story about weapons of mass destruction.”

In the US, a pressure group representing veterans of the Iraq war demanded the justice department open an investigation into the INC’s relationship to Curveball.

Chalabi, who was very close to the former US vice-president Dick Cheney in the decade leading up to the 2003 invasion, has often been accused of being the man behind Curveball. It has long been known that Chalabi provided the CIA with three other sources who lied about Saddam’s WMD capability. But when asked by the Guardian, Janabi and Chalabi denied knowing each other.

CIA knew Curveball was lying

Colin Powell demands answers over false Iraq intel: reports

Obama and Gates want to keep more troops in Iraq

 



CNN: Egyptian VP Suleiman a ‘feared man’

CNN: Egyptian VP Suleiman a ‘feared man’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMz0VzftXrw

Torture Victim of Omar Suleiman Speaks Out

Omar Suleiman: CIA’s Torture Chief in Egypt

 



Torture Victim of Omar Suleiman Speaks Out

Torture Victim of Omar Suleiman Speaks Out

Antony Loewenstein
Desertpeace
February 12, 2011

Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib was captured and tortured in the years after September 11 in both Egypt and Guantanamo Bay.

For years, “war on terror” supporters defamed Habib and claimed he was lying about his allegations of mistreatment. However last year in just one case against the Australian Murdoch press, he won a small victory:

    The courts have delivered another win to former Guantanamo Bay inmate Mamdouh Habib, declaring that he was defamed by News Ltd columnist Piers Akerman, paving the way for a hefty payout.

    The New South Wales Court of Appeal overturned a 2008 judgment in favour of Mr Akerman’s publisher Nationwide News and yesterday ordered them to pay Mr Habib’s legal costs in the five-year-old battle.

    It was the second win for Mr Habib in a month after the full court of the Federal Court upheld an appeal in his mammoth compensation case against the federal government for allegedly aiding and abetting his torture by foreign agents.

    Another hearing will now be held to determine what damages he will receive for the 2005 article in The Daily Telegraph and other News Ltd newspapers, headlined ”Mr Habib, it’s time to tell the full story”.

Today, with the Egyptian uprisings in full swing, the man tapped by the US, Israel and the West to lead the country, Omar Suleiman, was one of Habib’s torturers and there is intense scrutiny of who this man truly is.

I interviewed Habib exclusively tonight in Sydney about Suleiman, his calls for the torturer-in-chief to be charged, his knowledge about all the figures complicit in his rendition and his support for the Egyptian protests. He stressed that Suleiman was a CIA/Mossad agent who was willing to do anything for a price:

I reviewed Habib’s book, My Story, in 2008 for the Sydney Morning Herald and it tells a powerful story. The extracts below are all the references to Suleiman:

    pp.112-115

    The guard quickly told me that the very big boss was coming to talk to me, and that I must be well behaved and co-operate. Everyone was nervous. I have since found out that the boss was Omar Suleiman, head of all Egyptian security. He was known for personally supervising the interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects and sending reports to the CIA. In the beginning, he was often present during my interrogations. He must have thought that he had a big fish when I was sent to him by the Americans and Australians.

    I was sitting in a chair, hooded, with my hands handcuffed behind my back. He came up to me. His voice was deep and rough. He spoke to me in Egyptian and English. He said, “Listen, you don’t know who I am, but I am the one who has your life in his hands. Every single person in this building has his life in my hands. I just make the decision.”

    I said, “I hope your decision is that you make me die straight away.”

    “No, I don’t want you to die now. I want you to die slowly.” He went on, “I can’t stay with you; my time is too valuable to stay here. You only have me to save you. I’m your saviour. You have to tell me everything, if you want to be saved. What do you say?”

    “I have nothing to tell you.”

    “You think I can’t destroy you just like that?” He clapped his hands together.

    “I don’t know”. I was feeling confused. Everything was unreal.

    “If God came down and tried to take you by the hand, I would not let him. You are under my control. Let me show you something that will convince you.”

    The guard then guided me out of the room and through an area where I could see, from below the blindfold, the trunks of palm trees. We then went through another door back inside, and descended some steps. We entered a room. They sat me down.

    “Now you are going to tell me that you planned a terrorist attack”, Suleiman persisted.

    “I haven’t planned any attacks.”

    “I give you my word that you will be a rich man if you tell me you have been planning attacks. Don’t you trust me?” he asked.

    “I don’t trust anyone”, I replied.

    Immediately he slapped me hard across the face and knocked off the blindfold; I clearly saw his face.

    “That’s it. That’s it. I don’t want to see this man again until he co-operates and tells me he’s been planning a terrorist attack! he yelled at the others in the room, then stormed out.

    The guard came up to me, upset that I hadn’t co-operated.

    I said to him, “You have to let me go soon; it’s nearly 48 hours.”

    He looked at me, surprised, and asked, “How long do you think you’ve been here?”

    “A day”, I replied.

    “Man, you’ve been here for more than a week.”

    They then took me to another room, where they tortured me relentlessly, stripping me naked and applying electric shocks everywhere on my body. The next thing I remember was seeing the general again. He came into the room with a man from Turkistan; he was a big man but was stooped over, because his hands were chained to the shackles of his feet, preventing him from standing upright.

    “This guy is no use to us anymore. This is what is going to happen to you. We’ve had him for one hour, and this is what happens.”

    Suddenly, a guy they called Hamish, which means snake, came at the poor man from behind and gave him a terrible karate kick that sent him crashing across the room. A guard went over to shake him, but he didn’t respond. Turning to the general, the guard said, “Basha, I think he’s dead.”

    “Throw him away then. Let the dogs have him.”

    They dragged the dead man out.

    “What do you think of that?” asked the general, staring into my face.

    “At least he can rest now”, I replied.

    Then they brought another man in. This man, I think, was from Europe – his exclamations of pain didn’t sound like those of someone from the Middle East. He was in a terrible state. The guard came in with a machine and started to wire up the guy to it. They told the poor man that they were going to give him a full electric shock, measuring ten on the scale. Before they even turned the machine on, the man started to gasp and then slumped in the chair. I think he died of a heart attack.

    The general said that there was one more person I had to see. “This person will make you see that we can keep you here for as long as we want, all of your life, if we choose.”

    There was a window in the room, covered by a curtain. The general drew back a curtain, and I saw the top half of a very sick, thin man. He was sitting on a chair on the other side of the glass, facing me.

    “You know this guy?” the general asked.

    “No”, I replied.

    “That’s strange – he’s your friend from Australia.”

    I looked again, and was horrified to see that it was Mohammed Abbas, a man I had known in Australia who had worked for Telstra [Australian telecommunications company]. He had travelled to Egypt in 1999, and had never been seen again.

    “He is going to be your neighbour for the rest of your life.”

    It was then that I knew I was in Egypt, without a doubt. They then took Abbas away and closed the curtain.

    p.118

    After the first interrogation with Suleiman, I believed the Egyptians weren’t interested in where I had been; they only wanted me to confess to being a terrorist and having plotted terrorist attacks so they could sell the information to the United States and Australia. I decided then that I wouldn’t answer questions or explain anything; but, as a consequence, I was badly tortured in Egypt.

    p.133

Read Full Article Here

Suleiman: We will unleash “dark bats of the night… to terrorize people” if protests continue

Omar Suleiman: CIA’s Torture Chief in Egypt

 



The Best Speeches at CPAC 2011

The Best Speeches at CPAC 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JM8d_Arjz6g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwnDdEm3xRg

 



Rumsfeld and Cheney Booed at CPAC 2011

Rumsfeld and Cheney Booed at CPAC 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odQxY_WKQr0

 



Suleiman: Military Crackdown if Protest Continue

Suleiman: We will unleash “dark bats of the night… to terrorize people” if protests continue

Forbes
February 9, 2011

Egypt’s anti-government activists called on supporters Wednesday to expand their demonstrations in defiance of the vice president’s warning that protests calling for President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster would not be tolerated for much longer.

Vice President Omar Suleiman, who is managing the crisis, raised the prospect of a new crackdown on protesters Tuesday when he told Egyptian newspaper editors there could be a “coup” unless demonstrators agree to enter negotiations. The protesters insist they won’t talk before Mubarak steps down, which the president is refusing to do.

“He is threatening to impose martial law, which means everybody in the square will be smashed,” said Abdul-Rahman Samir, a spokesman for a coalition of the five main youth groups behind protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. “But what would he do with the rest of the 70 million Egyptians who will follow us afterward.”

Suleiman is creating “a disastrous scenario,” Samir said. “We are striking and we will protest and we will not negotiate until Mubarak steps down. Whoever wants to threaten us, then let them do so,” he added.

For the first time, protesters were calling forcefully Wednesday for labor strikes, trying to draw powerful labor unions into support for their cause.

Suleiman’s warning was the latest in a series of confused messages from the government to the protesters. Officials have made a series of pledges not to attack, harass or arrest the activists in recent days, followed by Suleiman’s thinly veiled threat of a new crackdown.

“We can’t bear this for a long time,” he said of the Tahrir protests. “There must be an end to this crisis as soon as possible.” He said the regime wants to resolve the crisis through dialogue, warning: “We don’t want to deal with Egyptian society with police tools.”

He also warned of chaos if the situation continued, speaking of “the dark bats of the night emerging to terrorize the people.” If dialogue is not successful, he said, the alternative is “that a coup happens, which would mean uncalculated and hasty steps, including lots of irrationalities.”

Although it was not completely clear what the vice president intended in his “coup” comment, the protesters heard it as a veiled threat to impose martial law – which would be a dramatic escalation in the standoff.

Read Full Article Here

Suleiman: CIA’s Torture Chief in Egypt