THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE U.S. MILITARY BASE AT GUANTANAMO
By Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army Colonel and former U.S. Diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to President Bushs War on Iraq
Today at the Fifth Conference on the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases, with a new President of the United States in office barely four months, who has sent 59 Tomahawk missiles into an air base in Syria and who is threatening further U.S. military actions from North Korea to more attacks on Syria, I represent a group of veterans of the U.S. military, a group that rejects U.S. wars of choice and rejects the huge number of U.S. military bases we have on the lands of other nations and peoples. I would like for the delegation from Veterans for Peace to stand.
We also have others from the United States here today, women and men who are civilians who believe the U.S. must end its wars on other nations and stop killing their citizens. Would members of the CODEPINK: Women For Peace delegation, Witness Against Torture and U.S. members of the World Peace Council and U.S. members of other delegations please stand up.
I am a 29-year veteran of the U.S. Army. I retired as a Colonel. I also served in the U.S. Department of State for 16 years in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia, the last four Embassies as Deputy Ambassador or at times, acting Ambassador.
However, in March 2003, fourteen years ago, I resigned from the U.S. government in opposition to President Bush’s war on Iraq. Since 2003, I have been working for peace and ending U.S. military operations around the world.
First, here in the city of Guantanamo, I want to apologize to the people of Cuba for the U.S. military base the U.S. forced on Cuba in 1898, 119 years ago, the military base outside the United States that my country has occupied the longest in its history.
Secondly, I want to apologize for the purpose of the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo. I apologize that for fifteen years, since January 11, 2002 ”the Guantanamo prison has been the site for the illegal and inhumane imprisonment and torture of 800 persons from 49 countries. 41 prisoners from 13 countries remain imprisoned there including 7 men charged and 3 convicted by the U.S. military commission court. There are 26 indefinite detainees known as forever prisoners who will never receive a military commission trial because they would undoubtedly reveal the illegal, criminal torture techniques U.S. officials, both CIA and U.S. military, used on them. Â Five prisoners were cleared for release, including two whose repatriation deals stalled at the Department of Defense in the last days of the Obama administration and who, tragically probably will not be released by the Trump administration.
Nine prisoners died while at the U.S. military prison, three of whom were reported as suicides but under extremely suspicious circumstances.
In the past fifteen years, those of us on the U.S. delegations have held countless demonstrations in front of the White House. We have disrupted Congress demanding that the prison be closed and the land be returned to Cuba and we have been arrested and sent to jail for disrupting Congress. During the Trump presidency, we will continue to demonstrate, disrupt and be arrested in our efforts to close the U.S. military prison and the U.S. military base at Guantanamo!
U.S. military has over 800 military bases around the world and is expanding the number rather than decreasing them, particularly in the Middle East. Currently, the US has five major air bases in the region, in the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Incirlik, Turkey. https://southfront.org/more-details-about-new-us-military-base-in-syria/
In Iraq and Syria, U.S. bases, or small temporary bases have been created as the United States increases its support for groups fighting the Assad government and ISIS in Syria and support for the Iraqi Army as it battles ISIS in Iraq.
In the past six months, the US Air Force has built or reconstructed two airfields in northern Syria near Kobani in Syrian Kurdistan and two airfields in Western Iraq. https://www.stripes.com/news/us-expands-air-base-in-northern-syria-for-use-in-battle-for-raqqa-1.461874#.WOava2Tys6U U.S. military forces in Syria are supposedly limited to 503, but troops who are in the country under 120 days are not counted.
Additionally, U.S. military forces are using the military bases of other groups, including a military base in north-eastern Syria, which is currently controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the Syrian city of Al-Hasakah, located 70 km from the Syrian-Turkish border and 50 km from the Syrian-Iraqi border. Reportedly, the US has deployed 800 servicemen on the military base. https://southfront.org/more-details-about-new-us-military-base-in-syria/
The US created a new military base in the western part of Syrian Kurdistan, also known as Rojava. And it is reported that large group of the well-equipped US Special Forces is located at the Tel Bidr base, located to the northwest of Hasakah. https://southfront.org/more-details-about-new-us-military-base-in-syria/
The Obama administration had capped the number of US military in Iraq at 5,000 and in Syria at 500, but the Trump administration is apparently adding another 1,000 into Syria. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/03/15/u-s-military-probably-sending-as-many-as-1000-more-ground-troops-into-syria-ahead-of-raqqa-offensive-officials-say/?utm_term=.68dc1e9ec7cf
Syria is the site of Russias only military bases outside of Russia with the naval facility in Tartus, and now at Khmeimim Air Base with Russia military operations in support of the Syrian government.
Russia also has military bases or the Russian military is using facilities many of the former Soviet republics now through the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), including 2 bases in Armenia https://southfront.org/russia-defense-report-russian-forces-in-armenia/; a radar and naval communications station in Belarus; 3,500 military personnel in South Ossetia Georgia; the Balkhash Radar Station, the Sary Shagan anti-ballistic missile test range and the Space Launch Center in Baikinor, Kazakhstan; Kant Air Base in Kyrgyzstan; a military task force in Moldova; the 201st Military Base in Tajikistan and also a Russian Navy resupply facility at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam
The tiny, strategically located country of Dijbouti has military bases or military operations from five countries ”France, the U.S., Japan, Saudi Arabia and China first overseas military base”.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-braude/why-china-and-saudi-arabi_b_12194702.html
The U.S. base, Camp Lemonnier at the Djibouti International airport, is the site of a large drone base hub used for assassin operations in Somalia and Yemen It is also the site of the U.S. Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and the forward headquarters of the U.S. Africa Command. It is the largest permanent U.S. military base in Africa with 4,000 personnel assigned.
In support of U.S. military operations in the Middle East, the U.S. military bases in Greece and Italy– the Naval Support Group in Souda Bay, Crete, Greece and the U.S. Naval Air Station in Sigonella, the U.S. Naval Support Group and the U.S. Naval Computer and Telecommunications Center in Naples, Italy.
In Kuwait, the U.S. has facilities on four bases including: three camps at the Ali Al Salem Air Base including Camp Arifian and Camp Buchring. The US Navy and US Coast Guard uses on the Mohammed Al-Ahmad Kuwait Naval Base under the name Camp Patriot.
In Israel, the U.S. has 120 U.S. military personnel at the Dimona Radar Facility, an American-operated radar base in the Negev desert as a part of the Iron Dome project.
In Bahrain, the U.S. has the U.S. Naval Support Group/Base for the Fifth Fleet and is the primary base for naval and marine actions in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and the Persian Gulf.
On the island of Diego Garcia, the U.S. has a U.S. Naval Support Facility provides logistic support for the US Air Force and Navy to operational forces in Afghanistan, the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf including up to twenty pre-positioned ships that can supply a large armed force with tanks, armored personnel carriers, munitions, fuel, spare parts and even a mobile field hospital. This equipment was used during the Persian Gulf War when the squadron transported equipment to Saudi Arabia. Â The United States Air Force operates a High Frequency Global Communications System transceiver on Diego Garcia.
In Afghanistan where the United States has had military forces for almost sixteen years from October 2001, the U.S has still has 10,000 military personnel and approximately 30,000 civilians working on 9 bases.
U.S. military bases are purposefully located near nations that the U.S. calls a threat to its national security. The bases in Germany, Poland and Romania and frequent military maneuvers in the Baltic States keep Russia on edge. The U.S. bases in Afghanistan, Turkey and Iraq keep Iran on edge. The U.S. bases in Japan, South Korea and Guam keep North Korea and China on edge.
Our coalition of peace groups in the United States will continue to work end U.S. military bases in other people countries as we work for a peaceful world not threatened by the United States.