In 1975 Senator Frank Church convened a joint senatorial/congressional inquiry into the egregious human rights and civil liberties violations of the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”), National Security Agency (“NSA”), as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) against people both foreign and domestic. Such blatant transgressions included the “neutralization” and “elimination” of political dissidents, “enemies of the state,” real or imagined threats to National Security, and anyone else on the proverbial shit list of the Military Industrial Complex (“MIC”).
The Church Committee was the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church (D ID) in 1975. A precursor to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the committee investigated intelligence gathering for illegality by the aforementioned agencies after certain activities had been revealed by the Watergate affair.
Some famous examples which have since emerged include: (1) the FBI sending letters to Martin Luther King Jr encouraging him to kill himself or else they would tell the world about his sexual proclivities; (2) the planned or successful assassinations of foreign leaders such as Fidel Castro, Patrice Lumumba, and countless other South American, Middle Eastern or Asian leaders; (3) the wholesale undermining of entire foreign economies if they democratically elected someone at odds with the elite power structure deep state of the United States such as what occurred against Salvatore Allende of Guatemala; (4) the possible assassination of John F Kennedy; (5) revelations of Christopher Pyle in January 1970 of the U.S. Army’s spying on the civilian population; (6) the December 22, 1974 New York Times article by Seymour Hersh detailing operations engaged in by the CIA over the years that had been dubbed the “family jewels,” involving covert action programs involving assassination attempts against foreign leaders and covert attempts to subvert foreign governments were reported for the first time; (7) efforts by intelligence agencies to collect information on the political activities of US citizens; and (8) countless other examples, both overseas and domestically.
The end result of the Church Committee Hearings was the outright banning on CIA assassinations as well as the FBI/DOJ COINTELPRO gang-stalking programs. In 1975 and 1976, the Church Committee published fourteen reports on various U.S. intelligence agencies’ formation, operations, and the alleged abuses of law and of power that they had committed, with recommendations for reform, some of which were later put in place.
Among the other matters investigated were attempts to assassinate other foreign leaders such as Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, the Diem brothers of Vietnam, Gen. René Schneider of Chile, and Director of CIA Allen Dulles’s plan (approved by President Dwight Eisenhower) to use the Sicilian Mafia to kill Fidel Castro of Cuba.
Under recommendations and pressure by this committee, President Gerald Ford issued Executive Order 11905 (ultimately replaced in 1981 by President Reagan’s Executive Order 12333) to ban U.S. sanctioned assassinations of foreign leaders.
Together, the Church Committee’s reports have been said to constitute the most extensive review of intelligence activities ever made available to the public. Much of the contents were classified, but over 50,000 pages were declassified under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.
The Church Committee learned that beginning in the 1950s, the CIA and FBI intercepted, opened, and photographed more than 215,000 pieces of mail by the time the program was shut down. The Church report found that the CIA was zealous about keeping the US Postal Service from learning that mail was being opened by government agents. CIA agents moved mail to a private room to open the mail or in some cases opened envelopes at night after stuffing them in briefcases or coat pockets to deceive postal officials.
On May 9, 1975, the Church Committee called CIA director William Colby. That same day Ford’s top advisers (Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Philip W. Buchen, and John Marsh) drafted a recommendation that Colby be authorized to brief only rather than testify, and that he would be told to discuss only the general subject, with details of specific covert actions to be avoided except for realistic hypotheticals. But the Church Committee had full authority to call a hearing and require Colby’s testimony. Ford and his top advisers met with Colby to prepare him for the hearing.
The Ford administration, particularly Rumsfeld, was “concerned” about the effort by members of the Church Committee in the Senate and the Pike Committee in the House to curtail the power of U.S. intelligence agencies. It seemed that Rumsfeld et al was comfortable giving the power to arbitrarily destroy anyone as “enemies of the state” by anyone working in the IC and MIC.
COINTELPRO (COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a series of covert and illegal projects conducted by the FBI aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic “political dissidents.”
FBI records show that COINTELPRO resources targeted groups and individuals that the FBI deemed subversive, including anti Vietnam War organizers, activists of the Civil Rights Movement or Black Power movement (e.g., Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Panther Party), feminist organizations, anti colonial movements (such as Puerto Rican independence groups like the Young Lords), and a variety of organizations that were part of the broader New Left.
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover issued directives on COINTELPRO, ordering FBI agents to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, neutralize or otherwise eliminate” the activities of these movements and especially their leaders. Under Hoover, the agent in charge of COINTELPRO was William C. Sullivan.
Tactics included anonymous phone calls, IRS audits, and the creation of documents that would divide their targets internally.
After the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Hoover singled out King as a major target for COINTELPRO. Under pressure from Hoover to focus on King, Sullivan wrote: “In the light of King’s powerful demagogic speech, we must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security.”
The Final Report of the Select Frank Church Committee blasted the behavior of the intelligence community in its domestic operations (including COINTELPRO) in no uncertain terms:
“The Committee finds that the domestic activities of the intelligence community at times violated specific statutory prohibitions and infringed the constitutional rights of American citizens. The legal questions involved in intelligence programs were often not considered. On other occasions, they were intentionally disregarded in the belief that because the programs served the “national security” the law did not apply. While intelligence officers on occasion failed to disclose to their superiors programs which were illegal or of questionable legality, the Committee finds that the most serious breaches of duty were those of senior officials, who were responsible for controlling intelligence activities and generally failed to assure compliance with the law. Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that – the Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.”
According to attorney Brian Glick in his book War at Home, the FBI used four main methods during COINTELPRO:
(1) Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents;
(2) Psychological warfare: The FBI and police used myriad “dirty tricks” to undermine progressive movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists. They used bad jacketing to create suspicion about targeted activists, sometimes with lethal consequences;
(3) Harassment via the legal system: The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, “investigative” interviews, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters;
(4) Illegal force: The FBI conspired with local police departments to threaten dissidents; to conduct illegal break ins in order to search dissident homes; and to commit vandalism, assaults, beatings and assassinations. The object was to frighten or eliminate dissidents and disrupt their movements.
The FBI specifically developed tactics intended to heighten tension and hostility between various factions in their targeted groups and individuals, and this resulted in numerous deaths, among which were San Diego Black Panther Party members John Huggins, Bunchy Carter and Sylvester Bell.
While COINTELPRO was officially terminated in April 1971, critics allege that continuing FBI actions indicate that post COINTELPRO reforms did not succeed in ending COINTELPRO tactics.
ENTER THE “COPS” FEDERAL AND STATE SANCTIONED GANG-STALKING PROGRAM
“Community Oriented Policing,” (“COPS”) is a strategy of policing that focuses on police “building ties and working closely with members of the communities,” and originated in 1994 when then Senator Joseph Biden wrote and then President Bill Clinton enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (“VCCLEA”) establishing the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (“COPS”) within the US Department of Justice.
Community policing is supposedly a policy that requires police to engage in a “proactive approach” to address public safety concerns, and is a cornerstone of the Clinton Administration, gaining its funding from the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.
Common implementations of community policing include: (1) relying on community based crime prevention by utilizing “civilian education,” neighborhood watch, and a variety of other techniques, as opposed to relying solely on police patrols; (2) restructuring the patrol from an emergency response based system to emphasizing proactive techniques such as foot patrol; (3) increased officer accountability to civilians they are “supposed to serve;” and (4) decentralizing police authority, allowing more discretion amongst lower ranking officers, and more initiative expected from them.
In other words, federal and state sanctioned and approved GANG-STALKING.
Gang Stalking has been described as fascism, using East Germany style “Stasi Tactics,” a systemic form of control, which seeks to control every aspect of a “Targeted Individual’s” life. Gang Stalking has many similarities to workplace mobbing, but takes place outside in the community, where the target is followed around and placed under surveillance by groups of organized civilian spies/snitches 24/7, 365 days a year. Targeted Individuals are harassed in this way for months or years before they realize that they are being targeted by an organized program of gang-stalking harassment. This is very similar to what happened to many innocent individuals in the former East Germany or activists and dissidents in the former Soviet Union. Many innocent people in the former East Germany would be targeted for these harassment programs, and then their friends, family, and the community at large would be used to monitor, prosecute, and harass them. In the former USSR it was used by the state to target activists, political dissidents, or anyone that the Secret Police thought was an “enemy of the state,” or as “mentally unfit,” and many were institutionalized or murdered using this form of systematic control.
In Bill Clinton’s COPS Gang-Stalking Program, civilian spies are recruited from every segment of society, and everyone in the “targets” life is made a part of this ongoing, continuous, and systematic form of control and harassment, with such actions that are specifically designed to control the target and to “keep them in line,” like a Pavlovian Dog. These actions are also designed to mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, socially, and psychologically destroy the target over years, to make them appear to be crazy, and leave them with no form of support, whatsoever.
For the targets of this harassment, COPS Gang Stalking is experienced as a covert psychological, emotional and physical attack that is capable of immobilizing and destroying a target over time. For the state, it is a way to keep their targets in line, control them, or ultimately destroy them.
This modern day systematic form of control is funded at the highest levels of government, just like it has in other societies where these similar types of harassment programs have been implemented.
Targets can be chosen for many reasons: (1) political views; (2) whistle blowing; (3) political dissidence; (4) asserting rights at work; (5) making the wrong enemy; (6) too outspoken; (7) investigating something that the state does not want investigated; (8) signing a petition; (9) writing a letter; (10) being “suspicious” by a civilian spy/snitch; or (11) being a religious/ethnic/racial minority.
The goal of the COPS state sanctioned organized gang-stalking program is to isolate the target from all forms of support, so that the target can be set up in the future for arrest, institutionalized, or forced suicide. Other goals of this harassment are to destroy the targets reputation and credibility, and to make the target look “crazy” or unstable.
The process often involves sensitizing the target to every day stimuli’s as a form of control, which is used to control targets when they “get out of line.” Targets of this harassment become vulnerable and destitute, and often become homeless, jobless, have a breakdown, are driven to suicide, similar to targets of the banned COINTELPRO. The government eliminates perceived “enemies of the state” in this manner.
When a target moves or changes jobs, the harassment continues.
Every time the target moves, the same defamation, lies, libel, and slander will be spread, and the systematic harassment will continue. Online defamation, libel, and slander on the internet has made this continuation of COPS gang-stalking a great deal easier.
People from all segments of society can be recruited to be the “eyes and ears” of the state, such as laborers, drug dealers, drug users, street people, prostitutes, punks, church groups, youth groups, your best friend, your lawyer, local policeman, doctor, emergency services, a neighbor, family, social workers, politicians, judges, dentists, vet, supermarket cashier, postman, religious leader, care worker, landlord, anyone.
Most of these recruited civilian spies/snitches do not understand or even care that the end consequence of this harassment protocol is to eventually destroy the targeted person, and function as “useful idiots” of the state sanctioned COPS gang-stalking program.
It has been reported that people participate in this COPS gang stalking because it: (1) gives them a sense of power; (2) is a way to make friends; (3) is something social and fun; (4) breaks down race/gender/age/social barriers; (5) is forced or blackmailed upon them by the State or police to take part; (6) is told to them that they are part of “homeland or national security” to help keep an eye on “dangerous” or “emotionally disturbed” individuals where they are “heroic spies for the state;” (7) is used on local thugs or informants who are already being used for other activities where their energies are diverted into these COPS gangstalking community spy programs; (8) is either a choice of spying for the State or police, or else go to jail; (9) involves outright lies and slander about the target to get them to go along with ruining the targets life; (10) includes average citizens recruited by the state the same way citizens were recruited in the former East Germany and other countries.
Some techniques used against targets in this organized COPS Gang-stalking program include: (1) classic conditioning where a target is sensitized to everyday stimuli over a period of months and years to harass them in public to let them know they are constantly being harassed and monitored; (2) 24/7 Surveillance following the target everywhere they go, learning about the target and where they shop, work, play, who their friends and family are, getting close to the target, moving into the community or apartment where they live, across the street, monitoring the targets phone, house, and computer activity; (3) isolating the target via defamation, libel, and slander campaigns, (eg, people in the target’s community are told that the target is a thief, into drugs, a prostitute, pedophile, crazy, in trouble for something, needs to be watched, false files will even be produced on the target, shown to neighbors, family, store keepers); (4) constant or intermittent noise and mimicking campaigns disrupting the targets life and sleep with loud power tools, construction, stereos, doors slamming, etc; (5) talking in public about private things in the target’s life; (6) mimicking actions of the target and basically letting the target know that they are in the target’s life; (7) daily interferences, not too overt to the untrained eye, but psychologically degrading and damaging to the target over time; (8) everyday life breaks and street theater such as flat tires, sleep deprivation, drugging food, putting dirt on targets property; (9) mass strangers doing things in public to annoy targets such as getting called/text messages to be at a specific time and place to perform a specific action; (10) blocking targets path, getting ahead of them in line, cutting or boxing them in on the road, saying or doing things to elicit a response from the target; (11) “baiting” tactics where a surveillance operation can selectively capture evidence of a targeted person responding to harassment, and then that evidence could then be used to justify the initiation of more formal scrutiny by a government agency.
The COPS Gang-Stalking Program, as all other state sanctioned/approved gang-stalking programs, have always been funded by the Government. They are the only ones with enough money, coordination, and power to keep such a system in place. These coordinated efforts then join hands with others for this systemic form of control and harassment.
Such operations have nothing to do with the target’s criminality – they are led and perpetrated by federal agents and intelligence/security contractors, often with the support of state and local law enforcement personnel. Unofficial operations of this type are often private investigators and vigilantes – including many former agents and police officers, sometimes on behalf of corporate clients and others with connections to the public and private elements of America’s security industry.
The goal of such operations is “disruption” of the life of an individual deemed to be an enemy (or potential enemy) of clients or members of the security state. Arguably, the most accurate term for this form of harassment would be “counterintelligence stalking.”
Agents of communist East Germany’s Stasi (state police) referred to this process as Zersetzung (German for “decomposition” or “corrosion” – a reference to the severe psychological, social, and financial effects upon the victim). Victims have described the process as “no touch torture” – a phrase which also captures the nature of the crime: cowardly, unethical (and often illegal), but difficult to prove legally, because it generates minimal forensic evidence.
Tactics include online and personal slander, libel, defamation, blacklisting, “mobbing” (intense, organized harassment in public), “black bag jobs” (residential break ins), abusive phone calls, computer hacking, framing, threats, blackmail, vandalism, “street theater” (staged physical and verbal interactions with the minions of the people who orchestrate the stalking), harassment by noises, and other forms of bullying.
Such stalking is sanctioned (and in some cases, orchestrated) by federal agencies; however such stalking is also sometimes used unofficially for personal and corporate vendettas by current and former corrupt employees of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, private investigators, and their clients.
Since counterintelligence stalking goes far beyond surveillance – into the realm of psychological terrorism, as it is essentially a form of extrajudicial punishment. As such, the harassment is illegal – even when done by the government. It clearly violates the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unwarranted searches, and the Sixth Amendment which guarantees the right to a trial. Such operations also violate similar fundamental rights defined by state constitutions. Stalking is also specifically prohibited by the criminal codes of every state in America.
As was stated above, organized stalking methods were used extensively by communist East Germany’s Stasi (state police) as a means of maintaining political control over its citizens. Although this is supposedly illegal in the US, the same covert tactics are quietly used by America’s local and federal law enforcement, and intelligence agencies, to suppress political and domestic dissent, silence whistle blowers, and get revenge against persons who have angered someone with connections to the public and private agencies involved.
Although Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency (“NSA”) in 2013 and 2014 generated a great deal of public discussion about mass surveillance, US domestic counterintelligence activities such as the COPS Program receive relatively little attention.
The FBI’s COINTELPRO operation is still happening, involving even more advanced surveillance technology – and this program is none other than Joseph Biden and Bill Clinton’s COPS Program.
US Department of Justice crime statistics from a 2006 survey indicated that an estimated 445,220 COPS gangstalking victims reported three or more perpetrators (the only ones reported), and this number is growing exponentially on a daily basis.
In addition to being morally reprehensible, the COPS gang stalking program, just like the original version of the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations, is very, very illegal. It violates criminal laws in all fifty states against stalking, as well as grossly violates the US Constitution’s prohibitions against warrantless searches and extra judicial punishment.
While the vast majority of Americans are never personally targeted by the Joseph Biden/Bill Clinton COPS gangstalking program, they should still be concerned about the existence of such operations.
Even if such activities were constitutionally legitimate (which they are not), they still have an enormous potential for abuse as a personal or political weapon by enemies currently employed or friendly with these governmental institutions.
Ending this cowardly and illegal practice by law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, and their parasitic corporate and individual recruits will first require exposing what is happening, to the public.
Omani national security and the kind of political and military cooperation with the United States
Historical documentary evidence suggests that the United States has always had a strategic partner in the region. Oman is undoubtedly the closest Iranian southern neighbor to the Persian Gulf, with its common cultural and religious roots with the land of Iran. But it should be noted that the effects of convergence between the United States and Oman have an impact on Iran’s national security. Also, after the US Secretary of State Visits Oman and his visit to Sultan Qaboos and the Pompeo positions in Amman, the question is: How much is Oman to do with US sanctions against Iran?
Oman has a geographical isolation in the Arabian Peninsula. The country has only a frontier from its western region, and the three UAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen are neighbors. On the other hand, the majority of the Abbasid religion of this country has led to its religious isolation in the Islamic world, and Wahhabism has entered into conflict with the followers of this religion several times since its inception, and still considers the abbots from the divergent difference of the Islamic world, And excuses.
Oman is relatively weak in the economic field, dependent on oil and the outside world. However, the Omani dealings with the United States are not high, and most of it is in the military arms sector. The demographic structure of this country, in particular the population of about 5% Shiite, who has a lot of strength and wealth, with the Baluchis, who have traveled to Oman many years before Iran, actually created a situation and the Omani government will not be in a relationship with Iran. If this issue is analyzed along with the influence of Wahhabism on the Omani population, it will be more important if it is to be analyzed.
It should be borne in mind that the Sunnis in Amman claim that they are the majority of the citizens of this country. Oman considers the Gulf Cooperation Council to be important in the framework of this cooperation, in addition to external problems, to prevent Arab aggression, the Omani are well aware of the history of Saudi Arabia’s deployment to its neighboring countries, and therefore the balance Power will not be pleasing to Saudi Arabia. Oman, which seeks to reduce dependence on oil and economic diversification in its 2020 and 2040 prospects, avoids any kind of conflict and conflict in the region, because the arrival of capital, tourists and goods, and services and manpower require security in this country. And stability in the region. They are working to strengthen Qatar in the Gulf Cooperation Council and are working with the United States to provide their own resources in the region, and because strengthening Qatar and removing Saudi and Qatari hostilities are in the interest of the country and necessary to curb Saudi Arabia. Greetings from the United States.
But the question is whether Oman can adopt an independent policy at the level of engagement with global powers such as the United States?
In August 2010, Oman and Iran signed a security agreement; of course, it cannot be said that the relations between Tehran and Muscat are generally without problems and is a full-fledged relationship; for example, the Oman navy does not participate in Iranian military maneuvers while Which is in the military maneuvers of the Gulf states, the United States, India and Pakistan. Oman has given America’s military partner its ports and bases. It has shown its willingness to participate in the US missile defense shield, which is aimed at creating security against Iran’s threat to the countries of the region.
From the point of view of Oman, the military conflict between the United States and Iran has a huge geopolitical and economic risk. To reduce this danger, the Omani government has acted as a bridge between Tehran and the West; that is why the Oman kingdom, unlike Saudi Arabia and some countries of the Cooperation Council, Which wants Iran to lose its position in the region, does not want Iran to be attacked by the military and tries to increase the capacity of Iran in the region by means of a synergy.
The geographic proximity of Iran and Oman in the Strait of Hormuz, Oman’s geographical remoteness from the Arab world, and the geopolitical and geopolitical importance of the Strait of Hormuz, Iran and Oman, have required good relations. Accordingly, and despite the fact that Oman has always had close ties with the United States, this has not had any effect on Iran’s friendly relations with the country. In fact, the different Muscat approach to the Tehran Cooperation Council has had a dramatic impact and has effectively reduced the influence of Riyadh on the smaller member states of the Council for the purpose of convergence, and undermined West’s efforts to isolate Tehran.
It should now be seen that in spite of important approaching variables such as geographic continuity, geopolitical situation in the region, oil, the need for stability in the region, and … the main causes of the security scene in the region.
In the past, in the context of security-related security with national power, there was a belief that with increasing military power security would increase, and with the number of military forces and equipment representing the power and security of each country, but now beliefs have changed and should be noted. National security is not a unilateral process that can only be increased by increasing its military power, but has a broad and comprehensive concept.
It is possible to maintain the national security of each political unit by increasing national power and balancing its constituent elements, and increasing one of these factors, if not accompanied by an increase in other factors, could threaten national security. In this regard, today, national security has taken a cross-border dimension; in other words, it is not just inside the border. Of course, security is not military power, so sometimes increased military strength reduces security and insecurity.
The Omanian kingdom has a different look at the position of the Gulf Cooperation Council on the issue of convergence; on the one hand, it contributes to economic issues within the framework of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, but on the other hand, in foreign policy and disputes between the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council Persian countries has not entered and has been trying to play a role in the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council by assuming the role of the Hammer of Equilibrium. However, now it seems that, despite the differences between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, it is not very willing to remain in the Gulf Cooperation Council. This approach may lead to a gap in the Gulf Cooperation Council, and will split countries into two different blocks. In this regard, Muscat tries to maintain its impartiality in the internal conflicts of this council as well as the differences between Iran and Arab countries, while playing a positive role.
Now the kingdom of Oman is not willing to pay for the rest of the world; therefore, in view of Muscat, Egypt’s entry into the Gulf Cooperation Union is very dangerous. On the other hand, the Omani kingdom does not differ much with other countries, but it is not pleasing to Saudi policies (which are trying to dictate their policies to other Gulf States). The country has repeatedly objected to Saudi apparent interference in foreign policy of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and if the situation continues, it is foreseeable that the Gulf Cooperation Council will collapse in the future, and even Qatar, along with the Oman kingdom, will cooperate with the Co-operation Council Gulf exits and form an alliance with Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. In contrast, Bahrain, UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are on the other.
In the future, Muscat tries to maintain its impartiality and, in its relations with the United States, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, and …, continues its policies and tries to play a positive role in resolving regional crises, as The meetings of Iran and the Western countries over the past years with Oman’s administration show that the king wants to mediate Iran’s relations with the West.
Tension in the Gulf: Not just maritime powder kegs
A recent interview in which Baloch National Movement chairman Khalil Baloch legitimized recent militant attacks on Iranian, Chinese and Pakistani targets is remarkable less for what he said and more for the fact that his remarks were published by a Saudi newspaper.
Speaking to Riyadh Daily, the English language sister of one of Saudi Arabia’s foremost newspapers, Al Riyadh, Mr. Baloch’s legitimization in the kingdom’s tightly controlled media constituted one more suggestion that Saudi Arabia may be tacitly supporting militants in Balochistan, a troubled Pakistani province that borders on Iran and is a crown jewel of China’s infrastructure and energy-driven Belt and Road initiative.
Riyadh Daily interviewed Mr. Baloch against the backdrop of heightened tensions between the United States and Iran that many fear could escalate into military conflict, past indications of Saudi support for religious militants in Balochistan, and suggestions that countries like the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are united in their opposition to Iran but differ on what outcome they want maximum pressure on the Islamic republic to produce.
The interview followed publication in 2017 by a Riyadh-based think tank with ties to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman of a call by a Baloch nationalist for support for an insurgency in the Baloch-populated Iranian province that borders Pakistan and is home to the crucial Indian-backed port of Chabahar on the Arabian Sea.
It also juxtaposes with Pakistani anti-Shiite, anti-Iranian militants who operate madrassahs along the Iranian-Pakistani border reporting stepped up Saudi funding. The monies are believed to come in part from Saudi nationals of Baloch descent, but the militants suggest the funding has at least tacit government approval.
Balochistan has witnessed multiple attacks on its Hazara Shiite minority as well as in May on a highly secured luxury hotel frequented by Chinese nationals in the Chinese-backed Baloch port city of Gwadar and a convoy of Chinese engineers as well as the Chinese consulate in Karachi. Militants killed 14 people in April in an assault on an Iranian revolutionary guards convoy and exploded in December a car bomb in Chabahar.
Saudi Arabia is also suspected of supporting the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, a controversial Iranian exile group that seeks the fall of the Iranian regime and enjoys support of senior Western politicians and former officials as well as US national security advisor John Bolton prior to his appointment and ex-Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal.
For now, tacit Saudi support for Baloch militants is likely to be more about putting potential building blocks in place rather than the result of a firm decision to wage a low-intensity proxy war.
“The recent escalation in militant attacks is a direct reaction to Pakistan army’s growing atrocities in Balochistan and China’s relentless plunder of Baloch resources,” Mr. Baloch said.
Asserting that the Pakistani part of Balochistan has been occupied by Pakistan since 1948, Mr. Baloch insisted that the “Baloch nation is resisting against this forced accession. This insurgency is the continuation of that.”
The alleged Saudi support coupled with plans for a US$10 billion Saudi investment in a refinery in Gwadar and a Baloch mine has sparked discussion in Beijing about the viability of China’s US$45 billion plus stake in the region’s security and stability.
Iranian officials see a pattern of foreign support for insurgents not only in Balochistan but also among Iran’s Kurdish, Arab and Azeri minorities. Their suspicions are fuelled by statements by Mr. Bolton prior to his appointment calling for support of insurgencies and Prince Mohammed’s vow that any battle between the Middle East’s two major rivals would be fought in Iran rather than Saudi Arabia.
Complicating the situation along Iran’s borders is the fact that like in the waters of the Gulf where naval assets are eyeing one another, it doesn’t take much for the situation to escalate out of control. That is particularly the case with Iran having shifted tactics from strategic patience to responding to perceived escalation with an escalation of its own.
Iran moreover has been preparing for a potential covert war waged by Saudi Arabia and possibly US-backed ethnic insurgent groups as well as the possibility of a direct military confrontation with the United States by building a network of underground military facilities along its borders with Pakistan and Iraq, according to Seyed Mohammad Marandi, an Iranian academic who frequently argues the Tehran government’s position in international media.
Iran recently released a video showcasing an underground bunker that houses its missile arsenal.
In a further heightening of tension, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards attacked on Friday Iranian armed opposition groups in the Kurdistan region of Iraq with drones and missiles. Iranian artillery separately shelled villages in a region populated not only by armed anti-Iranian and anti-Turkish Kurdish groups but also smugglers.
The strikes followed the killing of three Iranian revolutionary guards. A spokesman for the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) denied responsibility for their deaths.
The risk of escalation is enhanced by the fact that while the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel agree on the principle of maximum pressure, they do not necessarily see eye to eye on what the end goal is.
While US President Donald J. Trump appears to want to force Iran back to the negotiating table, Israel and Mr. Bolton are believed to advocate gunning for regime change ignoring the risk that the effort could produce a government that is even less palatable to them.
That outcome would suit Saudi Arabia that does not want to see a regime emerge that would be embraced by Western nations and allowed to return to the international fold unfettered by sanctions.
A palatable government would turn Iran into a Middle Eastern powerhouse with a competitive edge vis a vis Saudi Arabia and complicate the kingdom’s ambition to become a major natural gas player and sustain its regional leadership role.
Writing in the Pakistan Security Report 2018, journalist Muhammad Akbar Notezai warned: “The more Pakistan slips into the Saudi orbit, the more its relations with Iran will worsen… If their borders remain troubled, anyone can fish in the troubled water.”
Boko Haram and Frustration- Aggression Theory: A Potential Explanation
In the context of Boko Haram, it is vital to identify how Boko Haram resorted to extreme violent behavior. One theory that provides an understanding of such violent behavior is Frustration-Aggression Theory. This “holds that a group’s relative disadvantage in relation to others, which may be manifested in income inequality or hierarchical class, results in frustration which breeds grievance and aggression” (Iyekepolo, 2213). In the case of Boko Haram, this theory can arguably describe how frustration over Western education led to an increase in its aggressive behavior.
To understand Frustration-Aggression Theory further there must be comprehension on the term “frustration.” Frustration, as described by Berkowitz, is “an unpleasant, aversive stimulus which evokes negative affect by automatically eliciting cognitions that are associated with aggressive tendencies.” This view of frustration can provide insight into group motivations to justify acts of aggression. Recognizing these two important aspects of Frustration-Aggression Theory provides not only a background into Boko Haram,but a broad look into future potential attacks.
Application of Frustration-Aggression Theory
This research applies key aspects of frustration and aggression. First, the act of frustration defined as “blocking someone from gaining an expected gratification” (Dill and Anderson, 360). Second, aggression which is defined as “any behavior which is intended to injure the individual to whom it is directed” (Dill and Anderson, 360). These key aspects of Frustration-Aggression Theory provide in-depth knowledge into the decision-making process utilized by Boko Haram.
Boko Haram continues to feed off the economic conditions and frustrations of the Nigerian people. “The situation of poverty in Nigeria and Somalia, where Boko Haram [and Al Shabab] started, is worsened by the day-to-day paradox of mass poverty in the face of rich human and mineral resources.” (Ani and Ojakorotu, 12) This economic decline only fuels Boko Haram’s legitimacy and power. Not only does this fuel its status among African nations, it also increases the frustration of the Nigerian people against not only Boko Haram but the Nigerian government overall.
The level of poverty pervading the region also proved to be a factor in mobilizing the Boko Haram insurgency, as Mohammed Yusuf, the sect’s leader spoke regularly about it; arguing for devout Muslims to ‘migrate from the morally bankrupt society to a secluded place and establish an ideal Islamic society devoid of political corruption and moral deprivation (Iyekekepolo, 2215).
The economic conditions in which the many of the Nigerian people are still living became the foundational grounds for Boko Haram’s rise. The hardship the Nigerian government and its people have faced bred political corruption and moral deprivation. (Iyekekpolo, 2215)This continuous frustration from current economic conditions has also created more insight into Boko Haram’s increased aggression. Solomon Ayegba states this corruption is at the expense of the Nigerian people, which has resulted in the Boko Haram insurgency. (2015)
Boko Haram continued to gain legitimacy throughout Nigeria and neighboring states, which only increased the frustrations of citizens across West Africa. “The poor development status of Nigeria no doubt breeds an atmosphere of frustrated expectations and foster widespread indignation on the part of those that are trapped in the vortex circle of abject poverty.” (Mbasua, Musa and Fada, 96) Those imprisoned by Boko Haram’s terror are left more vulnerable to continued social and economic chaos. As the chaos continues to manifest, it leaves Nigeria not only socially and economically vulnerable but opens the gateway for political vulnerability.
Boko Haram was able to politically corrupt the Nigerian government by gaining a position of power. “A known senior member of Boko Haram, Late BojuFoi, was actually appointed a commissioner by former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff.” (Vaaseh, 407) The people of Nigeria now had more to fear than the current economic and social conditions. Political figures were now making promises to Boko Haram to provide support to “facilitate the actualization of their ideology.” (Vaaseh, 409)
The increased frustration of Boko Haram only led to more acts of violence. However, the target of Boko Haram’s aggression now turned more toward Nigerian security forces. Vaaseh explains “the inability of the politicians to keep to their promise of monthly salaries to the members angered them and the insurgents reacted severely by attacking security agents.” Boko Haram has used these political conditions to spread its ideology but has also capitalized off the lack of education throughout Nigeria proper. “In contemporary Nigeria, most, if not all, of the existing militant organizations are made up of a large percentage of uneducated and unemployed people who express frustration by the existing unbalanced structure of governance in the Nigerian federation.” (Vaaseh, 406)In an attempt to deal with these frustrations, Nigeria decided to form an organization called the Odua People’s Congress (OPC). However, the efforts to mitigate these frustrations ended in violent actions to pursue the organization’s objectives. Perhaps this is mere coincidence, but it more likely provides insight into the validity of Frustration-Aggression Theory and political/social violence within Nigeria.
There are many different manifestations of terrorism that emerge due to religious and ideological beliefs. In this form of extreme behavior, Boko Haram has been able to convince some of Nigerian society that the government is to blame for the overall social instability. “A number of them also blame the Nigerian Federal Government for poverty in the Northeast, thereby popularizing the idea that Boko Haram represents a symbol of the North’s struggle against political and economic marginalization.” (Ani and Ojakorotu, 20) This frustration has not only bred inequality amongst regional Nigerians but also deep psychological frustrations.
As the people continue to experience the economic and political frustrations of Boko Haram, they also experience their own psychological frustrations. Boko Haram has created a society in which people live in fear. “The populace had been deprived of their means of livelihood and this has become frustrating, resulting in aggression.” (Iyekekpolo, 2215) The people do not have the political and economic stability to combat Boko Haram. A vicious spiraling down cycle continues.
Boko Haram continues to launch attacks to intimidate the government and its citizens. The people of Nigeria attempt to live a normal life. However, the second and third order effects of Boko Haram’s terror impact daily living. “On 16 June 2011, the police headquarters in the capital Abuja was bombed, leading to a city-wide curfew.” (Elden, 416) This curfew was established to protect the Nigerian people and allow Nigerian forces to combat Boko Haram’s attacks. So, while Nigeria continues to strive for peace, education, and hope, the methods used can sometimes also become social chains that bind and constrain them.
Evaluation of Frustration-Aggression Theory
Frustration-Aggression Theory has been applied to explain the behaviors of foreign policymakers and those experiencing the violent attacks of Boko Haram. First, applying the Frustration-Aggression Theory framework, it can be hypothesized that foreign policymakers will be less likely to resort to violence towards Boko Haram. Therefore, not able to rely on external positive interference, Nigerians may also resort to alternative means to stop the spread of Islamic extremism due to their justified frustration with Boko Haram’s behavior and no formal governmental success in hindering it.
There are limitations to Frustration-Aggression Theory to consider, such as not all frustration breeds aggression. This study is also limited to evaluating extreme cases of frustration (i.e. corruption, terrorism). This theory is only used to evaluate Boko Haram and those influenced by the insurgency. Further application of this theory would research how Boko Haram perceives Western education as a threat to religious beliefs. Examination would include how Boko Haram exploits religious beliefs to gain sympathy to recruit members. Frustration-Aggression Theory could utilize the underlying frustration of religious intolerance and perceived colonization by the West to breed aggression.
Frustration-Aggression Theory provides knowledge and insight into the decision-making process of Boko Haram but also political members and citizens of Nigeria. Furthermore, it is imperative to recognize how Boko Haram knew such violent tactics would work. Understanding the efficacy of terrorism tactics can arguably shed light on producing new insights and new counter-measures that might lessen extremism on the ground and provide everyday Nigerians more of a fighting chance to create a stable and secure life amidst the chaos.
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