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October 18, 2018

Open Thread 2018-54

News & views not related to Khashoggi ...

Posted by b at 09:23 AM | Comments (78)

October 17, 2018

Saudis Stonewall On Khashoggi But Pressure Will Increase

The most interesting aspect of the botched assassination of Jamal Khashoggi is the insight it creates into political conflicts in U.S. domestic and international policies.

The Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman unwittingly did a huge favor to Turkey's president Erdogan when he send a crew to abduct or kill Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Erdogan is in a historic geopolitical conflict with Saudi Arabia over supremacy in the Middle East.

The Turks had the Saudi consulate bugged. Every country in the world tries to plant listening devices into foreign embassies and consulates. It is no surprise then that the Turks know what happened within the consulate and use the evidence to squeeze the Saudis. Erdogan knows how to play the media and does his very best to drag out the story. He will press the Saudis for financial and political gains.

On Monday the White House floated the idea that a 'rogue killer' was responsible for the ghastly deed in Istanbul. Trump himself led the campaign:

President Donald Trump on Monday repeatedly highlighted the Saudi King's denial of involvement in the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, at one point offering up an alternative theory that "rogue killers," rather than agents of the Saudi regime, were involved.

U.S. media made it seem as if the Saudis were flying that test ballon. But the Saudis rejected it way out. They say, to this day, that they are not aware that anything happened in their consulate at all. It was likely Netanyahoo's errand-boy in the White House, Jared Kushner, who floated the 'rogue killer' tale:

Cont. reading: Saudis Stonewall On Khashoggi But Pressure Will Increase

Posted by b at 01:47 PM | Comments (186)

October 16, 2018

Coverup Deal Will Blame Khashoggi Death On Extreme Torture

The coverup of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, killed on behalf of the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman, proceeds apace. It is part of a deal between Turkey and Saudi Arabia under the aegis of the United States. The haggling over the details will take a while.

Several media report of a test ballon, floated to find out if an 'alternative' story will fly:

Saudi Arabia was preparing an alternative explanation of the fate of a dissident journalist on Monday, saying he died at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago in an interrogation gone wrong, according to a person familiar with the kingdom’s plans. In Washington, President Trump echoed the possibility that Jamal Khashoggi was the victim of “rogue killers.”
...
[O]n Monday, a person familiar with the Saudi government’s plans said that Mr. Khashoggi was mistakenly killed during an interrogation ordered by a Saudi intelligence official who was a friend of the crown prince. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Prince Mohammed had approved interrogating or even forcing Mr. Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia under duress.

But, the person said, the Saudi intelligence official went too far in eagerly seeking to prove himself in secretive operations, then sought to cover up the botched job.

One might expand on that fairytale: "The Saudi general who allegedly botched the interrogation of Jamal Khashoggi mysteriously died in a Saudi air force plane crash on the same day the coverup story was floated." But that would probably take it too far.

The floated story will of course not be believed. A deadly interrogation - extreme torture - in the Saudi consulate is not plausible. One does not need to fly in 15 operators, including a specialist for autopsies, to twist someone's arms and ask a few questions. The intent was either to kidnap the guy or to outright kill him.

The trial ballon seems to come from U.S. sources, not from the Saudis. Trump yesterday spoke of "rogue killers" who may have caused the incident. No one near Mohammad bin Salman dares to go rogue. It's a deadly sin. U.S. intelligence services seem to believe that Khashoggi was indeed killed. The Wall Street Journal reports that Turkey provided its evidence:

Cont. reading: Coverup Deal Will Blame Khashoggi Death On Extreme Torture

Posted by b at 06:28 AM | Comments (165)

October 15, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2018-53

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 01:40 AM | Comments (97)

October 14, 2018

Settling The Khashoggi Case Is A Difficult Matter

The negotiation over the Khashoggi case will be extremely difficult. The protagonists are headstrong and dangerous people. The issue could easily escalate.

The Ottoman empire ruled over much of the Arab world. The neo-Ottoman wannabe-Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan would like to regain that historic position for Turkey. His main competition in this are the al-Sauds. They have much more money and are strategically aligned with Israel and the United States, while Turkey under Erdogan is more or less isolated. The religious-political element of the competition is represented on one side by the Muslim Brotherhood, 'democratic' Islamists to which Erdogan belongs, and the Wahhabi absolutists on the other side.

There are more tactical aspects to this historic conflict. When the Saudis cut ties with Qatar it was Turkey that sent its military to prevent a Saudi invasion of the tiny but extremely rich country. This gave Erdogan the financial backing he urgently needs. In response to that the Saudis offered several $100 millions to prop up the YPK/PKK proxy force the U.S. uses to occupy north-east Syria. These Kurdish groups fight a guerrilla war within Turkey and are a threat to its unity.

The effective Saudi ruler, clown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), made a huge mistake when he ordered the abduction (or murder) of the Saudi journalist Khashoggi in Istanbul. The botched operation gave Erdogan a tool to cut the Saudis to size.

But he needs U.S. support to achieve that. The recent release of the U.S. pastor (and CIA asset) Andrew Brunson is supposed to buy him good will with U.S. President Donald Trump. But Trump build his Middle East policy on his Saudi relations. He can not go berserk on them. Some solution must be found.


Khashoggi was a rather shady guy. A 'journalist' who was also an operator for Saudi and U.S. intelligence services. He was an early recruit of the Muslim Brotherhood:

Cont. reading: Settling The Khashoggi Case Is A Difficult Matter

Posted by b at 01:59 PM | Comments (130)

October 13, 2018

U.S. Bullying Of The Two Koreas Endangers Its Alliance ... And Peace

The Trump administration is haranguing South Korea for taking steps the U.S. had already agreed to. The New York Times believes that North Korea's insistence of sticking to signed agreements is a means of war. This only unites the two Koreas and does not bode well for the alliance. 


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North Korea Weaponizes Its Deal With Trump to Tangle Talks

In hailing the deal he reached with Kim Jong-un this summer in Singapore, President Trump said it “largely solved” the North Korean nuclear crisis.

He has since doubled down on that statement, most recently on Tuesday. “People don’t realize the importance of the first meeting,” he said. “I mean, we said, ‘Point No. 1: denuclearization.’ They’ve agreed to denuclearization.”

It was actually the third bullet point in the four-point Singapore agreement, and for the North Koreans, the order of those bullet points is everything. It will only agree to denuclearize once Washington commits to the first and second points: Mr. Trump’s promise to build “new” relations and a “peace regime” in Korea — and makes North Korea feel secure enough to disarm.

The standoff shows how North Korea has turned the deal Mr. Trump signed with its leader, Mr. Kim, into one of its most effective cudgels in talks with Washington over denuclearization, ceaselessly flaunting it to force American concessions.

The highlighted paragraph is the first time the New York Times admits that the Singapore agreement is indeed a numbered list of tasks that are to be taken step by step.

Moon of Alabama explained the sequence proscribed in the Singapore Statement, which is also included in the inter-Korean Panmunjom Declaration, back in July: Pyongyang Talks - How Pompeo Put The Cart Before The Horse. Ignoring the agreed upon sequencing was the reason why the talks Secretary of State Pompeo held in Pyongyang nearly failed. 

The hawks in the Trump administration tried to ignore the Singapore Statement as soon as it was signed. They wanted to jump to point 3 - North Korea's aspirational commitment of eventual denuclearization - before the U.S. even starts to fulfill the concrete measures it committed to in point 1 and 2 - establishing diplomatic relations and a peace agreement. The U.S. mainstream media supported the administration's false and a-historic interpretation that claimed that denuclearization comes first. It insisted on ignoring the sequence and wording of the Singapore Statement. The only exception was an op-ed by a Duyeon Kim in Foreign Policy.

We welcome the NYT to the small club of those who acknowledge the reality of the Joint Statement. But how is North Korean insistence on the written agreement "weaponizing" it? How can an amicably agreed and signed sequencing be a "cudgel"? Who is really trying to "tangle" the issue? The piece does not give any substance that supports its diction.

It is the Trump administration, and the main stream media who support its fudging, that deviates from the agreements. It is the U.S. that is in the wrong here, not North Korea.

Other countries accept the sequencing and the necessity to start with point 1 and 2. A recent joint press release by the deputy foreign ministers of China, Russia and the DPRK emphasizes it:

Cont. reading: U.S. Bullying Of The Two Koreas Endangers Its Alliance ... And Peace

Posted by b at 01:22 PM | Comments (73)

October 11, 2018

Saudis Must Cough Up Billions To Settle Khashoggi Case

The Khashoggi case, discussed here, will be moved off the news pages even faster than assumed.

A CNN correspondent just tweeted this:

Alexander Marquardt @MarquardtA - 16:44 utc - 11 Oct 2018
Erdogan spox: "At the request of Saudi Arabia, a joint working group will be established to uncover the events surrounding Jamal Khashoggi."

Translation:

Erdogan spox: "Our Sultan received a sufficient down payment to start negotiating about the burial of the case."

Prediction:

Erdogan will use the 'joint working group' to squeeze as much as he can out of the Saudis. (A deal may even include a political settlement of the Saudi blockade of Erdogan's sponsor Qatar.)


Yesterday 22 Senators signed a request to Trump to investigate the Khashoggi case under the Global Magnitsky Act. The Trump administration has 120 days to finish the investigation and to report back to the Senate. Any person or organization found to be involved in the kidnapping and possible murder of Khashoggi could then come under U.S. sanctions.

Those 120 days are the time-frame for Erdogan to use the thumbscrews the Saudi fuckup in its consulate in Istanbul handed him. The Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman will get squeezed like never before. It will cost him billions to purchase the video of the Khashoggi killing the Turkish government claims to have.

Erdogan will not be the only one to profit from the issue. The Senate move gives Trump enormous leverage over the Saudis. He will use it.

Cont. reading: Saudis Must Cough Up Billions To Settle Khashoggi Case

Posted by b at 03:03 PM | Comments (144)

Open Thread 2018-52

News & views ...

Posted by b at 12:15 PM | Comments (87)

October 10, 2018

U.S. Intelligence Had A 'Duty To Warn' Khashoggi - Why Didn't That Happen?

It is beyond doubt that the Saudi government abducted, or killed, the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But what did the Trump administration knew about the threat to Khashoggi? Did U.S. intelligence services warn him as their regulations require? Was such a warning blocked by the White House? And what will Trump do about the case?

The Turkish government published pictures of 15 men who had come from Saudi Arabia and were in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul shortly before Khashoggi visited it to get his divorce papers. They moved Khashoggi to the residence of the consul and later that day flew back on the same two private Saudi jets that had brought them to Istanbul.

At least 8 of the 15 men have been identified as Saudi royal military. At least three are bodyguards of the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman. It is thereby obvious that the clown prince himself gave the order for the operation. One of the 15 is Dr. Salah Muhammed Al-Tubaigy, the head of forensic evidence at the Saudi General Security Department.

Anonymous Turkish sources assert that Khashoggi was killed, his body cut to pieces and taken away. They even claim that there is video of the murder:

The official described a quick and complex operation in which Mr. Khashoggi was killed within two hours of his arrival at the consulate by a team of Saudi agents, who dismembered his body with a bone saw they brought for the purpose.

“It is like ‘Pulp Fiction,’” the official said.
...
Mr. Erdogan was informed of the conclusions on Saturday, according to several people with knowledge of the briefings, and he has since dispatched officials to anonymously tell myriad news outlets, including The New York Times, that Mr. Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate.
...
Another person briefed on the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity to disclose confidential details, told The Times on Saturday that Turkish intelligence had obtained a video of the killing, made by the Saudis to prove that it had occurred.

A commentator close to Mr. Erdogan’s government said so publicly on Tuesday.

“There is a video of the moment of him being killed,” Kemal Ozturk, a columnist in a pro-government newspaper and the former head of a semiofficial news agency, said in an interview on a pro-government television network, citing unnamed security officials.

That Erdogan pushes this 'Pulp Fiction' story is not astonishing. His troops protect Qatar from a Saudi attack and Qatar props up the Turkish economy with multi-billion investments. There is also the old Ottoman versus Arab fight over leadership in the Middle East.

But why would the Saudis kill Khashoggi? Why not drug him, haul him to the airport and fly him back to Riyadh as a "medial emergency"? Why not put him into a big box and transported him as privileged diplomatic baggage? If the Saudis intended to kill Khashoggi they could have hire some guy to shoot him in the streets. It would have been a much simpler operation and way less suspicious.

Killing Khashoggi in the official Consulate makes no sense - unless MbS wanted this current public outrage. Is it a warning to all his enemies? Is it to demonstrate that he can get away with anything?

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. government knew that Khashoggi was in danger:

Cont. reading: U.S. Intelligence Had A 'Duty To Warn' Khashoggi - Why Didn't That Happen?

Posted by b at 01:02 PM | Comments (132)

October 09, 2018

Syria Sitrep - The Turkish-Russian Agreement Holds - S-300 Air Defense Arrives

The situation in Syria is relatively calm. The government (red) has consolidated the areas it retook during the year. The Syrian army received new air defense (see below) and other materials and is busy integrating it. Some Syrian army units are currently moving east to Al Bukamal on the border with Iraq. Others have been sent to their home bases.


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The only place where the Syrian army is still actively engaged is in the southern desert near As-Suwayda where some 1-2,000 ISIS fighters (grey) hold on to a small enclave in the mid of a large area of volcanic rock. The terrain is difficult to cross with tanks and the infantry fight there is bloody.

The Turkish Russian agreement over a demilitarized zone in the 'rebel' controlled Idleb government seems to hold.

Cont. reading: Syria Sitrep - The Turkish-Russian Agreement Holds - S-300 Air Defense Arrives

Posted by b at 12:42 PM | Comments (65)

October 08, 2018

Mainstream Journos Pissed As Saudi Clown Prince Nabs One Of Their Own

The Moustache of Understanding, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, is pissed that the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the kidnapping of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, who comes from a very rich family, has long served the Saudi regime in editorial positions and was the media adviser to Prince Turki al-Faisal during his tenure as ambassador in London and Washington. He left Saudi Arabia last year out of fear of being targeted in the ongoing crackdown by clown prince Mohammad bin Salman. He ended up writing mildly critical columns for the Washington Post. Khashoggi is no liberal but a staunch supporter of Saudi system and its brutality. He had praised the beheading of Syrian soldiers by ISIS as an "effective psychological military tactic" and supported the abhorrent Saudi war on Yemen.

According to the Turkish police, Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 at 13:12 to receive his divorce documents and never came out. On the same day 15 Saudi citizens had come to Istanbul on two planes and were in the consulate building when Khashoggi was there. They later left Turkey. Anonymous Turkish police sources claimed that the team of Saudi agents killed Khashoggi after he entered the consulate, hacked up his body and took the remains with them. That horror story is unlikely to be true. Turkey, itself the biggest jailer of journalists, has bad relations with Saudi Arabia and supports its arch-rival Qatar. The Saudi government has a long record of kidnapping and bringing back prominent Saudis who fled the country. It does not off these people in foreign places.

The bootlicking 'premier' western publications, especially the Washington Post, lauded Mohammad bin Salman as a reformer. He never was one. He said so himself in a recent Bloomberg interview. Nor did any of his predecessor, who were all lauded as reformers by the mainstream media, ever really change the archaic Saudi system. But when MbS visited the United States this spring every Silicon Valley billionaire, including Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, was happy to have his picture taken with him.

But no one kissed bin Salman's ass as affectionate as Tom Friedman. Take this from last years most embarrassing fanfiction:

Cont. reading: Mainstream Journos Pissed As Saudi Clown Prince Nabs One Of Their Own

Posted by b at 05:31 PM | Comments (75)

October 07, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2018-51

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

The Saudi video tweet is still up. The U.S. media position towards the clown prince MbS and Saudi Arabia is likely to change over the fate of their beloved propagandist Jamal Khashoggi. The servile adoration by the whole 'elite' towards the fake 'reformer' will end. Hey Washington Post, time to pick up on the piece above to fill that empty space.

Should it be confirmed that Saudi goons indeed killed Khashoggi the State Department will - in the harshest terms - condemn Iran and sanction Russia.

---

Also this week:
The anti-Kavanaugh strategy by the Democratic Party leadership was an utter failure. They could have emphasized his role in the Patriot Act, the Bush torture regime and his earlier lies to Congress to disqualify him. Instead they used the fake grievance culture against him which allowed Trump to do what he does best - wield victimhood (vid, recommended).
---

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 11:22 AM | Comments (187)

India's U-Turn Destroys Trump's Anti-Chinese 'Quad' Strategy

A change in India's foreign policy last week disintegrated the Trump administration's strategy against Russia and China. U.S. media pronouncements about India will now change. The Indian government under Narendra Modi will come under heavy propaganda fire.


Two weeks ago the MoA Weekly Review mused about the corrupt Rafale fighter jet deal India's Hindu-fascist President Modi had arranged:

In short: The previous government signed a contract with France' Dassault to buy 126 Rafale jets for $10.6 billion. Thirty percent of the price would flow back from Dassault to the Indian state owned aviation manufacturer HAL, which would assemble most of the planes.
Modi flew to Paris and changed the deal without the knowledge of his cabinet and the country's military. India will get only 36 Rafales but pay $8.7 billion for them. Thirty percent of the money would flow back to a private Indian company belonging to the largely bankrupt, privately held Reliance Group for unrelated projects and without any know-how transfer.
How much Reliance, owned by the once very rich Ambani family, would hand over to Modi and his party is yet unknown. There are calls for Modi to step down which he is unlikely to do.

The writing was based on and credited to the legwork Caravan Magazine had done.

Today the New York Times picked up the story - With ‘Fishy’ Jet Deal, India’s Opposition Finally Lands a Blow on Modi.

The 'paper of the record' is two weeks late with the story, adds nothing new to it and does not even credit Caravan which uncovered the details of the corrupt deal.

The question thus is: Why was this published now?

The U.S. had hoped that it could pull the traditionally non-aligned India to its side and use it in its strategic wars against China, Russia and Iran. The Quad strategy of an Indo-Pacific alliance of Japan, Australia and India under U.S. leadership was agreed upon a year ago,  supposedly to implement a "rules based order" in which the U.S. makes up rules of what China (and others) are allowed to do - or not allowed to do - in the Indo-Pacific realm.

Critics of the Modi government did not like the subservient role proud India was supposed to play in that game.

Then the U.S. Congress, through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanction Act (CAATSA), threatened India with sanctions should it buy the Russian S-400 air-defense systems. Trump also threatens with sanctions over India's purchase of Iranian oil.

Domestic criticism of Modi's strategy increased. The Rafale scandal added to the pressure. After some dithering he finally changed course.

Cont. reading: India's U-Turn Destroys Trump's Anti-Chinese 'Quad' Strategy

Posted by b at 10:45 AM | Comments (49)

October 06, 2018

Scientists Raise Alarm Over U.S. Bio-Weapon Programs

Recent evidence about deadly tests of biological substances in Tbilisi, Georgia raised alarm about U.S. biological weapon research in foreign countries. European scientist are extremely concerned about a dubious research program, financed by the Pentagon, that seems designed to spread diseases to crops, animals and people abroad. The creation of such weapons and of special ways to distribute them is prohibited under national and international law.

The U.S. is running biological weapon research across the globe:

Bio warfare scientists using diplomatic cover test man-made viruses at Pentagon bio laboratories in 25 countries across the world. These US bio-laboratories are funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) under a $ 2.1 billion military program– Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP), and are located in former Soviet Union countries such as Georgia and Ukraine, the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa.

Until the mid nineteen-seventies the U.S. military tested biological warfare weapons on U.S. people, sometimes over large areas and on specific races. After a Congress investigation revealed the wide ranging program such testing was moved abroad.

Private companies use U.S. government controlled laboratories in foreign countries for secret biological research under contract of the U.S. military, the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security. Last month the Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva reported of one of these U.S. controlled bio-laboratories:

The US Embassy to Tbilisi transports frozen human blood and pathogens as diplomatic cargo for a secret US military program. Internal documents, implicating US diplomats in the transportation of and experimenting on pathogens under diplomatic cover were leaked to me by Georgian insiders. According to these documents, Pentagon scientists have been deployed to the Republic of Georgia and have been given diplomatic immunity to research deadly diseases and biting insects at the Lugar Center – the Pentagon biolaboratory in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi.

Al Mayadeen TV broadcasted a video reportage about the laboratory and its deadly effects on Georgian 'patients'.

Last week the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Russian Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. of illegal biological weapon research in the Tbilisi laboratory:

Cont. reading: Scientists Raise Alarm Over U.S. Bio-Weapon Programs

Posted by b at 10:02 AM | Comments (93)

October 05, 2018

How The U.S. Runs Public Relations Campaigns - Trump Style - Against Russia And China

Yesterday several NATO countries ran a concerted propaganda campaign against Russia. The context for it was a NATO summit in which the U.S. presses for an intensified cyberwar against NATO's preferred enemy.

On the same day another coordinated campaign targeted China. It is aimed against China's development of computer chip manufacturing further up the value chain. Related to this is U.S. pressure on Taiwan, a leading chip manufacturer, to cut its ties with its big motherland.

The anti-Russian campaign is about alleged Russian spying, hacking and influence operations. Britain and the Netherland took the lead. Britain accused Russia's military intelligence service (GRU) of spying attempts against the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague and Switzerland, of spying attempts against the British Foreign Office, of influence campaigns related to European and the U.S. elections, and of hacking the international doping agency WADA. British media willingly helped to exaggerate the claims:

The Foreign Office attributed six specific attacks to GRU-backed hackers and identified 12 hacking group code names as fronts for the GRU – Fancy Bear, Voodoo Bear, APT28, Sofacy, Pawnstorm, Sednit, CyberCaliphate, Cyber Berku, BlackEnergy Actors, STRONTIUM, Tsar Team and Sandworm."

The "hacking group code names" the Guardian tries to sell to its readers do not refer to hacking groups but to certain cyberattack methods. Once such a method is known it can be used by any competent group and individual. Attributing such an attack is nearly impossible. Moreover Fancybear, ATP28, Pawn Storm, Sofacy Group, Sednit and Strontium are just different names for one and the same well known method. The other names listed refer to old groups and tools related to criminal hackers. Blackenergy has been used by cybercriminals since 2007. It is alleged that a pro-Russian group named Sandworm used it in Ukraine, but the evidence for that is dubious at best. To throw out such a list of code names without any differentiation reeks of a Fear-Uncertainty-Doubt (FUD) campaign designed to dis-inform and scare the public.

The Netherland for its part released a flurry of information about the alleged spying attempts against the OPCW in The Hague. It claims that four GRU agents traveled to The Hague on official Russian diplomatic passports to sniff out the WiFi network of the OPCW. (WiFi networks are notoriously easy to hack. If the OPCW is indeed using such it should not be trusted with any security relevant issues.) The Russian officials were allegedly very secretive, even cleaning out their own hotel trash, while they, at the same, time carried laptops with private data and even taxi receipts showing their travel from a GRU headquarter in Moscow to the airport. Like in the Skripal/Novichok saga the Russian spies are, at the same time, portrayed as supervillains and hapless amateurs. Real spies are neither.

Cont. reading: How The U.S. Runs Public Relations Campaigns - Trump Style - Against Russia And China

Posted by b at 08:27 AM | Comments (104)

October 04, 2018

Saudi Embassy Video Claims Al-Qaeda Likes Iran But Proves The Opposite

The embassy of Saudi Arabia in the United States posted a video which claims that Iran "tacitly supported al-Qaeda".

However, the video, posted on October 3 at 19:44 UTC, provides only one thing. Al-Qaeda shunned contacts with Iran because al-Qaeda receives its support from Arab states.


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The Saudi embassy video includes an interview segment with "Abu Hafs, the mufti of al-Qaeda". It has Arabic and English captions. In the Saudi video Abu Hafs says:

Iran has tried for several times to establish relations with Al-Qaeda
But Al-Qaeda was refusing because of the sensitivity of forging a relationship with Iran in the Arab Peninsula
which is the most important source of support to Al-Qaeda members

a fact that Osama was taking into account
And I have discussed this matter in my own memos

Here are screenshots of the interview segment:

Cont. reading: Saudi Embassy Video Claims Al-Qaeda Likes Iran But Proves The Opposite

Posted by b at 05:15 AM | Comments (74)

October 03, 2018

Iran Sanctions - U.S. Responds To Court Order By Canceling Treaty That Gave The Court Jurisdiction

Earlier today the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a provisional judgment (pdf, 29 pages) against some of the U.S. sanction against Iran. The ruling is a preliminary injunction over urgent humanitarian issues that will later be followed by a final judgment.

The U.S. responded by canceling the treaty the gave the court jurisdiction over the case.

The ICJ is the main judicial organ of the United Nations and settles legal disputes between member states. The rulings of the court, based in The Hague, are binding. But there is no global police force that can make the U.S. government follow the court's ruling.

Nevertheless the judgment sets a precedent that other courts will use when more specific cases against the U.S. sanctions against Iran come up. A company that loses business because of the sanctions may sue the U.S. over financial losses. An ICJ ruling on the illegality of the U.S. sanctions will then be used by a local court, even an American one, as reference.

The core of the ruling says:

THE COURT,

Indicates the following provisional measures:

(1) Unanimously,

The United States of America, in accordance with its obligations under the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights, shall remove, by means of its choosing, any impediments arising from the measures announced on 8 May 2018 to the free exportation to the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran of

(i) medicines and medical devices;
(ii) foodstuffs and agricultural commodities; and
(iii) spare parts, equipment and associated services (including warranty, maintenance, repair services and inspections) necessary for the safety of civil aviation;

(2) Unanimously,

The United States of America shall ensure that licences and necessary authorizations are granted and that payments and other transfers of funds are not subject to any restriction in so far as they relate to the goods and services referred to in point(1);

(3) Unanimously,

Both Parties shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve. 

The provisional judgment, comparable to an injunction, was issued because of the imminent humanitarian damage the U.S. sanctions cause to Iran. The final judgment may take a year and is likely to be much wider. After today's unanimous ruling the general direction of the outcome is not in question.

The U.S. had claimed that the the court has no jurisdiction over the issue of its sanctions against Iran.

Cont. reading: Iran Sanctions - U.S. Responds To Court Order By Canceling Treaty That Gave The Court Jurisdiction

Posted by b at 01:34 PM | Comments (85)

October 02, 2018

Note To NATO - You Don't "Take Out" Missiles Without Having A War

Earlier today the U.S. ambassador to NATO threatened to "take out" a new kind of Russian missiles:

The U.S. envoy to NATO on Tuesday said that Russia must halt development of new missiles that could carry nuclear warheads and warned that the United States could “take out” the system if it becomes operational.

The U.S. and Russia have for some time disagreed about the INF treaty. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed in 1987 between the Soviet General Secretary Gorbachov and U.S. President Reagan. It prohibits land based (not sea based) nuclear capable systems with a range of more than 500 kilometers and less than 5,500 kilometers. The agreement came to pass after the Soviets stationed SS-20 missiles in East Europe. NATO responded with the Pershing II deployment. The problem with these missiles was warning time. Fired at a relative short range they threatened to overwhelm one side before it could respond. The missiles thus destroyed the equilibrium of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). The INF treaty banned these missiles.

Russia said for years that the U.S. broke the INF agreement when it stationed missile defense systems in Europe to allegedly take out North Korean and Iranian intercontinental missiles. The missile defense missiles could be armed with nuclear warheads and could probably be used in a surface-to-surface mode. Previously deployed U.S. Nike-Hercules 'air defense' missiles had such capabilities. The National Defense Authorization Act for the year 2018 calls for (pdf, pg 240):

... evaluating existing U.S. missile systems for modification to intermediate range and ground-launch, including Tomahawk, Standard Missile-3, Standard Missile-6, Long-Range Stand-Off Cruise Missile, and Army Tactical Missile System.

Any such modification would be undetectable from the outside, especially when the missiles are stored in launch canisters or silos. It would also clearly be in breach of the INF treaty.

The U.S. denies that its current missile defense systems break the INF and accuses Russia of breaking the treaty by testing a land launched version of its sea launched Kalibr cruse missiles. Russia denies that it is testing anything that is not compatible with the INF treaty. If there is a land launched version it is likely confined to a range below 500 kilometers and thus in compliance with the INF. The sea launched version has a reach of up to 2,500 kilometer, but its export variant is limited to 300 kilometer. The possibly land launched version, which is said to be shorter than the original Kalibr missile (see comments), might well have a much shorter range than the sea launched system. The missiles have, as far as is publicly know, non-nuclear warheads.

The U.S. ambassador to NATO is Kay Baily Hutchinson, a long-term Republican politician with no military experience. Her choice of words in today's press briefing was clearly unprofessional:

Question: [...] Ma’am, can you be more specific what kind of new information that you are bringing to the table regarding the breach of the INF Treaty? And more explicitly also, what kind of countermeasures that you are considering.

Ambassador Hutchison: The countermeasures would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty. So that would be the countermeasure eventually. We are trying not to do anything that would violate the treaty on our side, which allows research, but not going forward into development, and we are carefully keeping the INF Treaty requirements on our side, while Russia is violating. ...

The reporters in the room were in disbelieve over such aggressive wording and followed up:

Cont. reading: Note To NATO - You Don't "Take Out" Missiles Without Having A War

Posted by b at 02:15 PM | Comments (118)