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July 17, 2018

Helsinki Talks - How Trump Tries To Rebalance The Global Triangle

The reactions of the U.S. polite to yesterday's press conference of President Trump and President Putin are highly amusing. The media are losing their mind. Apparently it was Pearl Harbor, Gulf of Tonkin and 9/11 all in one day. War will commence tomorrow. But against whom?

Behind the panic lie competing views of Grand Strategy.

Rereading the transcript of the 45 minutes long press conference (vid) I find it rather boring. Trump did not say anything that he had not said before. There was little mention of what the two presidents had really talked about and what they agreed upon. Later on Putin said that the meeting was more substantive than he expected. As the two spoke alone there will be few if any leaks. To understand what happened we will have to wait and see how the situations in the various conflict areas, in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere, will now develop.

The 'liberal' side of the U.S. did its best to prevent the summit. The recent Mueller indictment was timed to sabotage the talks. Before the meeting in Helsinki the New York Times retweeted its three weeks old homophobic comic flick that shows Trump and Putin as lovers. It is truly a disgrace for the Grey Lady to publish such trash, but it set the tone others would follow. After the press conference the usual anti-Trump operatives went ballistic:

John O. Brennan @JohnBrennan - 15:52 UTC - 16 Jul 2018

Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???

Senator John McCain released a scathing statement:

... “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant. Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are—a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad. ...

These imbeciles do not understand the realism behind Trump's grand policy. Trump knows the heartland theory of Halford John Mackinder.  He understands that Russia is the core of the Eurasian landmass. That landmass, when politically united, can rule the world. A naval power, the U.S. now as the UK before it, can never defeat it. Trump's opponents do not get what Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor of President Carter, said in his book The Grant Chessboard (pdf) about a Chinese-Russian alliance. They do not understand why Henry Kissinger advised Trump to let go of Crimea.

Trump himself professed his view (vid) of the big picture and of relations with Russia in a 2015 press conference:

Cont. reading: Helsinki Talks - How Trump Tries To Rebalance The Global Triangle

Posted by b at 07:41 AM | Comments (88)

July 16, 2018

The Magic Of Novichok - Deadly Agent Found In Perfume Bottle

This before-after advertisement for Novichok perfume, featuring Yulia Skripal, made the rounds a while ago.


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The ad was published before May 27. Its creator must have had real vision. Last night the BBC reported:

Amesbury: Novichok found in perfume bottle, says victim's brother

The nerve agent that poisoned two people in Amesbury was contained in a perfume bottle, the brother of one of the victims has said.

Matthew Rowley said his brother Charlie, who is seriously ill in hospital, told him he had picked up the perfume bottle.

The Metropolitan Police, which is leading the investigation, refused to confirm the claim.

Previously the force has said only that it was found in a "small bottle".

Sergej Skripal and his daughter Yulia both mysteriously recovered from the alleged 'nerve agent' 10 times as deadly as VX. It was the magic of the Novichok perfume that did it.

One victim of the second 'Novichok' incident in Wiltshire, Matthew Rowley, is also on the path to full recovery. His friend Dawn Strugess, a drug addict with serious medical preconditions, died. Like with the Skripal case the details of the second incident raise lots of new questions.

According to the police the 'small bottle' contained an agent of the 'Novichok' group:

Cont. reading: The Magic Of Novichok - Deadly Agent Found In Perfume Bottle

Posted by b at 01:32 PM | Comments (60)

July 15, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2018-35

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Airbus is pissed. It was asked by May to give a dire warning about Brexit which it dutifully did. The next day May handed a big no-bid contract to Boeing.

Trump today added to turmoil he caused in Europe:

In an interview with "CBS Evening News" anchor Jeff Glor in Scotland on Saturday, President Trump named the European Union -- comprising some of America's oldest allies -- when asked to identify his "biggest foe globally right now."
"Well, I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn't think of the European Union, but they're a foe. ..."

Bashing allies is an essential component of the Trump doctrine:

The second-best self-description of the Trump Doctrine I heard was this, from a senior national-security official: “Permanent destabilization creates American advantage.” The official who described this to me said Trump believes that keeping allies and adversaries alike perpetually off-balance necessarily benefits the United States, which is still the most powerful country on Earth.
...
The best distillation of the Trump Doctrine I heard, though, came from a senior White House official with direct access to the president and his thinking. I was talking to this person several weeks ago, and I said, by way of introduction, that I thought it might perhaps be too early to discern a definitive Trump Doctrine. “No,” the official said. “There’s definitely a Trump Doctrine.” “What is it?” I asked. Here is the answer I received: “The Trump Doctrine is ‘We’re America, Bitch.’ That’s the Trump Doctrine.”

Adam Carter at Disobedient Media finds contradictions between the indictment and publicly known evidence.

M.K. Bhadrakumar mulls on the indictment timing and previews the Helsinki summit.

The U.S. foreign policy establishment, here the president of the Council of Foreign Relations, is losing it:

Richard N. Haass @RichardHaass - 21:26 UTC - 14 Jul 2018
International order for 4 centuries has been based on non-interference in the internal affairs of others and respect for sovereignty. Russia has violated this norm by seizing Crimea and by interfering in the 2016 US election. We must deal w Putin’s Russia as the rogue state it is.

Shorter: "Westphalianism for us, intervention for everyone else."

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 11:16 AM | Comments (158)

July 13, 2018

No Evidence In Mueller's Indictment Of 12 Russians - Release Now May Sabotage Upcoming Summit

The Special counsel Robert Mueller issued an indictment (pdf, 29 pages) against 12 Russian people alleged to be officers or personal of the Russian Military Intelligence Service GRU. The people, claims the indictment, work for an operational (26165) and a technical (74455) subunit of the GRU.

A Grand Jury in Washington DC issued 11 charges which are described and annotated below. A short assessment follows.

The first charge is for a "Conspiracy to Commit an Offense Against the United States" by stealing emails and leaking them. The indictment claims that the GRU units sent spearfishing emails to the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party organizations DNC and DCCC. They used these to get access to email boxes of John Podesta and other people. They are also accused of installing spyware (X-agent) on DNC computers and of exfiltrating emails and other data from them. The emails were distributed and published by the online personas DCLeaks, Guccifer II and later through Wikileaks. The indictment claims that DCLeaks and Guccifer II were impersonations by the GRU. Wikileaks, "organization 1" in the indictment, is implicated but so far not accused.

Note: There is a different Grand Jury for the long brewing case against Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Assange has denied that the emails he published came from a Russian source. Craig Murray, a former British ambassador, said that he received the emails on a trip to Washington DC and transported them to Wikileaks.

The indictment describes in some detail how various rented computers and several domain names were used to access the DNC and DCCC computers. The description is broadly plausible but there is little if any supporting evidence.

Charge 2 to 9 of the indictment are about "Aggravated Identity Theft" for using usernames and passwords for the personal email accounts of others.

Charge 10 is about a "Conspiracy to Launder Money". This was allegedly done "through a web of transaction structured to capitalize on the perceived anonymity of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin". It is alleged that the accused mined bitcoins, channeled these through dozens of accounts and transactions and then used them to rent servers, virtual private network access and domain names used in the operation.

Note: The indictment reinforces the author's hunch that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are creations and playgrounds of secret services just like Tor and other 'cool' internet 'privacy' stuff are. Its the very reason why one should avoid their use.

Cont. reading: No Evidence In Mueller's Indictment Of 12 Russians - Release Now May Sabotage Upcoming Summit

Posted by b at 02:39 PM | Comments (176)

July 12, 2018

Syria Sitrep - Army Liberates Daraa City

Today the current Syrian government campaign in Daraa governorate saw another highlight. The 'rebels' in the southern part of the city of Daraa gave up and reconciled with the government. Currently the Syrian army is taking control of the area. The Syrian flag has been raised over its buildings.

The whole Daraa governorate campaign in southwest Syria proceeded with astonishing speed. In just three weeks the government forces recovered 84% of the 'rebel' held territory and dozens of cities and villages with little force. Jordan and the U.S. had finally denied support for the 'rebels' and their only choices were to reconcile or to die. Almost all of them chose to give up. An enormous amount of weapons, including at least 18 U.S. made TOW anti-tank missiles systems and two British made armored infantry carriers, were handed over to the Syrian government.

The maps show the situation at the beginning of the campaign and as of today. (red - Syrian government; green - 'rebels' and al-Qaeda; grey - Islamic Statel; blue - Golan Heights occupied by Israel; Jordan is to the south) Note: The encircled southern part of the city of Daraa on the current map is still marked green as the government is only now taking control of it.


June 19 2018 bigger - July 12 2018 bigger

Israel is threatening the Syrian forces not to come near the deconfliction line on the Golan Heights. It wants to keep a buffer of Jihadis between itself and the Syrian army. Any attempt to achieve that will be in vane. Syria and its allies are determined to eradicate the Jihadis.  As these are experienced fighters willing to die the fight will likely take several weeks. After that the Syrian army will move north and liberate Idleb.

Cont. reading: Syria Sitrep - Army Liberates Daraa City

Posted by b at 01:41 PM | Comments (170)

July 11, 2018

Trump's False Arguments Will Not Sell Well In Europe

Donald Trump, the 'America First' salesman, came to Brussels today to demand more tribute to the empire. He wants Europe to buy more U.S. made weapons and to use U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG). But his arguments are all wrong. The people in Europe are not impressed by them and they will reject his appeals.

His first talk in Brussels was a profoundly wrong bashing of Germany to push it into buying very expensive LNG from U.S. fracking producers. Trump, Putin's puppet according to the 'resistance', used the Russian bogeyman to set the scene:

Well, I have to say, I think it’s very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where you’re supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.
...
So we’re protect you against Russia, but they’re paying billions of dollars to Russia, and I think that’s very inappropriate. And the former Chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that’s supplying the gas. Ultimately, Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas.

So you tell me, is that appropriate? I mean, I’ve been complaining about this from the time I got in. It should have never been allowed to have happened. But Germany is totally controlled by Russia, because they will be getting from 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline.
...
Now, if you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia because they supply. They got rid of their coal plants. They got rid of their nuclear. They’re getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia.
...
I think trade is wonderful. I think energy is a whole different story. I think energy is a much different story than normal trade. And you have a country like Poland that won’t accept the gas. You take a look at some of the countries — they won’t accept it, because they don’t want to be captive to Russia. But Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia, because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia. So we’re supposed to protect Germany, but they’re getting their energy from Russia. Explain that. And it can’t be explained — you know that.

Trump was talking about the Nordstream II pipeline which will supply Germany and other European countries with natural gas from Russia.


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Nord Stream I has been operating for a while. Nord Stream II is currently being build by private Austrian and German companies.

Cont. reading: Trump's False Arguments Will Not Sell Well In Europe

Posted by b at 02:50 PM | Comments (204)

July 10, 2018

German Parliament Report: U.S. Presence in Syria Is Illegal

The Scientific Services of the German Bundestag are the equivalent to the Congressional Research Service in the United States. Members of Parliament can ask the services to give their neutral expert opinions on legal questions and other issues. Opinions by the Scientific Services are held in high regard.

Alexander Neu, a Member of Parliament for the Left Party in Germany, requested an opinion on the legality of the military presence and operations by Russia, the United States and Israel in Syria.

The result (pdf, in German) is quite clear-cut:

- Russia was asked by the recognized government of Syria to help. Its presence in Syria is without doubt legal under International Law.

- U.S. activities in Syria can be seen as two phases:

Regime Change

The provision of arms to insurgents in Syria by the U.S. (and others) was and is illegal. It is a breach of the Prohibition on the Use of Force in international law specifically of the UN Charter Article 2(4):

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

Fight against ISIS

The U.S. argues that its presence in Syria is in (collective) self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter because the Islamic State in Syria threatens to attack the United States. That, in itself, would be insufficient as Syria is a sovereign state. The U.S. therefore additionally claims that the Syrian state is "unwilling or unable" to fight against the Islamic State.

The Scientific Services says that the claim of "unwilling or unable" was already dubious when the U.S. operation started. This for two reasons:

  • It is not law or an internationally accepted legal doctrine. (The 120 members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and others have argued strongly against it.)
  • The Syrian government itself was fighting ISIS, but it could not operation in large parts of its territory where the Islamic State had taken control. Some argue that this justified the "unable" argument. But ISIS is largely defeated and it no longer has any significant territorial control.

The already dubious legal case for the presence of U.S. (and other 'coalition' troops in Syria) can thus no longer be made. The U.S. presence in Syria is illegal.

- Israel's attacks on Hizbullah and Iranian units and installations in Syria, as well as against Syria itself, are claimed by Israel to be 'anticipatory self-defense' under UN Charter Article 51. But 'anticipatory self-defense' could only be claimed when attacks against Israel were imminent. That case has not been made. The Israeli attacks are thus 'pre-emptive self defense' which is not an accepted doctrine of International Law.

The service was not asked for an opinion on Turkey's incursion into Syria but it notes that claims of 'self defense', as Turkey makes in its fight against Kurdish entities in Syria, are often abuses for Geo-strategic purposes.

So far the Scientific Services opinion.  

The given legal arguments are not new. Other have long reasoned along the same lines and came to the same results.

But Germany is a partner of the U.S. coalition of the willing against ISIS. Its military has flown reconnaissance missions from Turkey and Jordan in support of the U.S. operation under the same legal argument the U.S. made. The German parliament is now unlikely to renew the mandate for the anti-ISIS operation. Other countries will likely follow and end their participation in the U.S. coalition.

While this is will not change the situation on the ground in Syria it does change the international political atmosphere. It also 'rehabilitates' the Syrian government in the European public eye as it can no longer be depicted as an 'enemy.' 

Posted by b at 02:48 PM | Comments (90)

July 09, 2018

BREXIT - Still Not Gonna Happen

Good news: The pictured man is no longer the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom.


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Bad news: The pictured man may soon be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Hours before Boris Johnson quit his position, Brexit Secretary David Davis resigned from Prime Minister May's cabinet.

On July 6 the British government held a cabinet meeting at Chequers, the private seat of the prime minister. Following the meeting it published a paper (pdf) that took a weird position towards exiting the European Union. If it would be followed, Britain would practically end up with staying in the EU, accepting nearly all its regulations and court decisions, but without any say over what the EU decides. The paper was clearly written by the 'Remain' side. The two top Brexiters in May's cabinet felt cheated and resigned. More are likely to follow.

The majority of the British people who voted to leave the EU must feel duped.

Cont. reading: BREXIT - Still Not Gonna Happen

Posted by b at 11:43 AM | Comments (158)

July 08, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2018-34

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

By Friday the new 'Novichok' fairytale had already vanished from the front pages. The story the British government tells is no longer believed. Even the Guardian allowed a comment that doubts the claims:

If the novichok was planted by Russia, where’s the evidence?

The most obvious motive for these attacks would surely be from someone out to embarrass the Russian president, Vladimir Putin – someone from his enemies, rather than from his friends or employees.

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 02:27 PM | Comments (168)

Pyongyang Talks - How Pompeo Put The Cart Before The Horse

U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo just visited North Korea to further the agenda President Trump and Chairmen Kim had agreed upon in Singapore. The visit did not go well:

The specifics of what happened behind closed doors remain unclear. Whether Pompeo somehow annoyed his counterpart, or pressed too hard, or whether the North Koreans are simply reverting to their hot-and-cold tactics, is hard to say. But the regime made sure to have the final word, and it was not pleasant.

As he was leaving, Pompeo told reporters the conversations were “productive and in good faith.” Hours later North Korean state media issued a statement that did not mention him by name but called the demands he presented “gangster-like.”

The Trump administration has long set out its goal as CVID, the "Complete, Verifiable and Irreversible Dismantlement" of North Korea nuclear weapons program. After applying "maximum pressure" on North Korea through international sanctions, the U.S. believed that long planned steps North Korea took to start talks with its adversaries were already the total surrender it was hoping for. Somehow the people became convinced that North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons. From a Washington Post story:

Amid increasing scrutiny of North Korea's commitment to giving up its weapons, Pompeo came to Pyongyang in a bid to hammer out the details of a denuclearization plan. While the secretary told reporters that progress was made "on almost all of the central issues” and involved “good-faith negotiations,” North Korea said the U.S. attitude, demanding denuclearization, was “regrettable.”

"North Korea's commitment to giving up its weapons" is presented as a matter of fact in the U.S. media. However, North Korea never made such a commitment. The declarations it agreed to set out denuclearization as an aspiration goal that will be worked on only after the normalization of economic and military relations and after a peace treaty has been agreed on or signed. The record on that is clear.

Cont. reading: Pyongyang Talks - How Pompeo Put The Cart Before The Horse

Posted by b at 02:02 PM | Comments (46)

July 07, 2018

Syria - Mainstream Media Lie About Watchdog Report On The 'Chemical Attack' In Douma

Some mainstream media are outright lying about the OPCW report on the alleged 'chemical attack' in Douma.

The Washington Post writes:

[A] global watchdog concluded that chlorine was indeed used in the city of Douma a day before rebel forces surrendered there.
...
In an interim report released Friday, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said its inspectors had discovered traces of “various chlorinated organic chemicals” across two sites it inspected.

The OPCW did not conclude at all that "chlorine was indeed used". It found some chemical compounds which have chlorine, carbon and hydrogen in various configurations as their main elements. There are hundreds if not thousands of "chlorinated organic chemicals". A plastic pipe made from polyvenylchlorid (PVC = (C2H3Cl)n) is made of the same elements. One could call it a "chlorinated organic chemical". Burning something made of PVC will releases various compounds many of which will themselves be "chlorinated organic chemicals". But finding residues of a burned plastic pipe or isolation in a home does not mean that chlorine gas was used in that place. Several of the compounds the OPCW found result from using chlorine to disinfect water. They can be found within the chlorinated water and about anywhere where chlorinated water was used. 

The BBC made a similar 'mistake'. It headlined "Syria war: Douma attack was chlorine gas - watchdog".


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Cont. reading: Syria - Mainstream Media Lie About Watchdog Report On The 'Chemical Attack' In Douma

Posted by b at 02:48 PM | Comments (66)

July 06, 2018

Syria - OPCW Issues First Report Of 'Chemical Weapon Attack' in Douma

On April 7 2018 Syrian 'rebels' claimed that the Syrian government used chlorine gas and Sarin in an attack on the besieged Douma suburb near the Syrian capital Damascus. They published a series of videos which showed the dead bodies of mainly women and children.

During the night the incident allegedly happened Douma was hit with artillery and air strikes in retaliation for earlier deadly attacks by some 'rebels' splinter groups on Damascus city. Jaish al-Islam, the main 'rebel' group in Douma, had already agreed to leave towards Idleb governorate.

The claim of the 'chemical attack' was made shortly after U.S. President Trump had announced that he wanted U.S. troops to leave Syria. It was designed to "pull him back in" which it indeed did.

Moon of Alabama published several pieces on the issue:

April 8 - Syria - Timelines Of 'Gas Attacks' Follow A Similar Scheme (Update II)
April 9 - Syria - Any U.S. Strike Will Lead to Escalation
April 11 - Syria - A U.S. Attack Would Be Futile - But Serve A Purpose - by M. K. Bhadrakumar
April 11 - Trump Asks Russia To Roll Over - It Won't
April 12 - Syria - Threat Of Large War Recedes But May Come Back
April 13 - Syria - Manipulated Videos Fail To Launch World War III - Updated
April 14 - F.U.K.U.S. Strikes Syria - Who Won?
April 16 - Syria - Pentagon Hides Attack Failure - 70+ Cruise Missiles Shot Down
April 19 - Syria - Who Is Stalling The OPCW Investigation In Douma?

It seemed obvious from the very first claims of the 'gas attack' that it did not happen at all. The Syrian government had no motive to use any chemical weapon or an irritant like chlorine in Douma. It had already won. The incident was obviously staged, like others before it, to drag the U.S. into a new attack on Syria.

Even a prominent opposition outlet said that no 'chemical attack' had taken place. As noted on April 9:

Cont. reading: Syria - OPCW Issues First Report Of 'Chemical Weapon Attack' in Douma

Posted by b at 03:23 PM | Comments (76)

July 05, 2018

Syria Sitrep - UN Refugee Numbers For Daraa Are Mere Propaganda - They Make No Sense At All

UN organizations claim high internal refugee numbers in southwest Syria due to recent fighting in Daraa governorate. A review of the evidence finds that these numbers are implausible.

Over the last two weeks the long announced operation of the Syrian army and its allies to liberate southwest Syria from terrorist organization and 'rebels' proceeded well. The eastern part (red) of the 'rebel' held area has been recovered without much serious fighting. Most towns in the area accepted the Russian offers to reconcile with the Syrian government. The various local 'rebel' groups in those towns handed their heavy weapons to the Syrian army, joined the army or laid down their arms. Other fled further south. Those groups who resisted received a short but sharp lashing by the Russian airforce and Syrian artillery until they were convinced to give up or move out. There were only few casualties. The Syrian army recovered more then ten tanks and a huge amount of ammunition (video) that the sponsors of the rebels had previously delivered to them. Among the weapons found were at least 7 U.S. delivered TOW anti tank missile systems. A fifteen minutes long report by the Russian language ANNA TV documents the campaign (vid, English subs).

Daraa governorate, July 5 2018 - bigger

Over the last few days negotiations with groups which control the M5 highway and the Nassib-Jaber border crossing to Jordan proceeded but failed. Among other issues the 'rebels' demanded to tax future transports through the crossing. The demand is unreasonable and was rejected. This morning a new Syrian army operation was launched with the aim to reach the crossing and to reestablish government control over the border area.

Cont. reading: Syria Sitrep - UN Refugee Numbers For Daraa Are Mere Propaganda - They Make No Sense At All

Posted by b at 03:26 PM | Comments (56)

July 04, 2018

British Government Peddles Warmed Over Novichok Muck

It seems that Theresa May felt a need to stoke some more Russia hate:

Just as the World Cup had forced the British media to grudgingly acknowledge the obvious truth that Russia is an extremely interesting country inhabited, like everywhere else, by mostly pleasant and attractive people, we have a screaming reprise of the “Salisbury incident” dominating the British media.

All British media outlets report of a middle-aged British couple, Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, who fell seriously ill in Amesbury, a town near Salisbury and near the British chemical weapon site Proton Down. The couple were transported to the Salisbury hospital. They were first suspected to have taken drugs but the police now speaks (vid) of a "potential exposure to an unknown substance" and that they "remain in a critical condition". [Update - July 5: British officials now say the two were poisoned with "Novichok".]

The parallels to the poisoning of the British-Russian spy Sergej Skripal and his daughter four month ago are obvious. The government alleged the Skripals were poisoned by a nerve agent of the Novichok series.  Like back in March the British government will soon name the evildoer of this new drama.

The most curious issue of the current case is that it happened Saturday morning. A lot of local emergency action took place since then. But news of the incident emerged only early today. None of the pieces I read explains the four days long lack of reporting. The British government obviously issued a D-notice and prohibited all news of the case until early today and now prohibits to explain the censoring.

Why?

A "friend of the couple", who had been with them on Friday night and Saturday, was interviewed by several outlets:

Cont. reading: British Government Peddles Warmed Over Novichok Muck

Posted by b at 02:21 PM | Comments (197)

July 03, 2018

Secret U.S. Wars Endanger Africa

Under the pretense of waging their 'war of terror' U.S. Special Forces use lots of money and murky legal authorities to worm themselves into the intestines of Africa. Their secret action is likely to lead to more instability and is endangering the peoples of Africa and their governments.

In a recent interview Seymour Hersh spoke (@2:50m) about U.S. military operations in Africa:

"We have a big special forces community that are active particular in Africa, in lot of places. I think the public knows very little about it. I don't think my president has been briefed on it. I think he isn't interested in it or just doesn't know about it. I know there is concern among some people in the military, high up in the military, in the government, in Washington: 'What are these guys doing? Who is in control?' There is a lack of control among the special forces. Many of them are driven with the idea that they are in a crusade. That they are the Knights of Malta fighting the infidels in the 14th century or 13th century. I mean that's really crazy stuff. So when I hear in the military, what the special operations command says about Mali: 'Here is what happened when four guys died and how.' I am sorry but I think there is much more to the story, there is much more to our presence there, but it is very hard to get that stuff."

The U.S. has only few of its regular military stationed in Africa. But there are plenty of U.S. special forces there, mostly working in secret. They are supposed to be under control of AFRICOM, the imperial U.S. command for that continent.

In 2007 Moon of Alabama commentator b real wrote a three part series, Understanding AFRICOM: A Contextual Reading of Empire's New Combatant Command, which documents how and why AFRICOM came about:

In early February 2007 the White House finally announced a presidential directive to establish by September 2008 a new unified combatant command with an area of responsibility (AOR) solely dedicated to the African continent.
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The U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) will replace the AOR for each of three other geographic combatant commands (there are now a total of six) currently tasked with portions of the second-largest continent, with the small exception of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) retaining AOR for Egypt. Further details on operations have not been made public apart from the usual basic press briefings and the formation of a transition team, though it is not a mystery to identify what role AFRICOM will play in both the U.S. and Africa's future.

Africa is huge with a relatively small population of 1.2 billion, less than India or China. Its 54 countries have various kinds of natural wealth. Next to oil, gas and uranium there are all types of strategic minerals and metals, from cobalt needed for rechargeable batteries to rare earth elements used in electronics. 


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China is making friends in Africa by investing in infrastructure to further development and trade. It is building ports, railways and telecommunication lines. These projects aim at win-win situations where China as well as the host country profit from them.

To counter China the U.S. is using its 'regime change' tools and secret military operations instead of economic cooperation. While its military missions are claimed to be 'to train, advise and assist' with no combat role for U.S. soldiers the reality is much different. A recent attempt to catch the local smuggler/insurgent Doundoun Cheffou in the Niger-Mali border area ended with the death of four Nigerien soldiers, four U.S. soldiers and one Nigerien translator. The local insurgent group claimed to be part of the Islamic State (ISIS) but there is no evidence that it ever communicated with ISIS central or that it was accepted into the ISIS structure.

The incident finally led to more detailed reporting which finds that the operation was under direct control of U.S. special forces who (ab)used the Nigerian military under a secret "rent auxiliaries" program.

Two recent pieces detail the murky legal background and discuss the consequences of such operations. Joe Penny writes in World Politics Review about: The ‘Myths and Lies’ Behind the U.S. Military’s Growing Presence in Africa:

Cont. reading: Secret U.S. Wars Endanger Africa

Posted by b at 11:20 AM | Comments (56)

July 01, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2018-33

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 12:31 PM | Comments (345)

On The Path To Failure - U.S. Attempts Violent "Regime Change" In Iran

In early 2014 we remarked on Color Revolution by Force in Syria and Ukraine:

Accompanying the demonstrations and illegal occupations of government buildings are in both cases brutal, criminal attacks on the police and other government forces. In Syria the violence "muscle" part was done by foreign financed Jihadists while neo-nazi gangs are used in the Ukraine. The demonstrations and the attacks on the state are planned and go together. There is nothing "peaceful" in demonstrations that are only the public-relations cover for attacks on the state. But the foreign politicians and media immediately utter "concerns" and threats over completely normal government responses to them. It is a scam to justify "western" "support" for the demonstrators and to further the violence.

The aim is "regime change" of legitimate governments by small minorities. Should the "regime" resist to that the alternative of destroying the state and the whole society is also wholeheartedly accepted.

We have since seen similar CIA operations in Venezuela and most recently in Nicaragua. The same concept is used to attack Iran. In December peaceful economic protests were hijacked by violent elements. Last night a similar attempt occurred:

Sayed Mousavi @SayedMousavi7 - 22:17 UTC - 30 Jun 2018

Khoramshar water shortage protest turned violent tonight.
What we know:
- At least 2 protesters shot, possibly by getting close to military zones
- Mobs set 2 museums on fire (reports)
- 1 hour of calm
- No base takeovers (anti-regime journos have claimed)
- Armed bike is suspicious

The scene with the "armed bike" in the video attached to the above tweet can be seen better in another video. It shows two "peaceful protesters" on a motorcycle shooting at police with an automatic gun. The shooter is hit and falls off. Another "peaceful protester" picks up the gun and continues shooting.


via Sayed Mousavi - bigger

A year ago the CIA created a new mission center to attack Iran:

Cont. reading: On The Path To Failure - U.S. Attempts Violent "Regime Change" In Iran

Posted by b at 12:21 PM | Comments (73)

June 30, 2018

"Officials" Attempt To Sabotage Further North Korea Talks

Several Congress people and some officials in the CIA and Trump administration try to throw a spanner into the negotiations with North Korea. They "leak" to NBC News about an intelligence assessment on North Korea's nuclear facilities. The result is a sensationalized piece that includes no surprising facts.

North Korea has increased nuclear production at secret sites, say U.S. officials
"Work is ongoing to deceive us on the number of facilities, the number of weapons, the number of missiles," said one U.S. official.

One of the NBC authors is Ken Dilanian who is well known for his tight cooperation with the CIA.

Its opening:

U.S. intelligence agencies believe that North Korea has increased its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months — and that Kim Jong Un may try to hide those facilities as he seeks more concessions in nuclear talks with the Trump administration, U.S. officials told NBC News.

The intelligence assessment, which has not previously been reported, seems to counter the sentiments expressed by President Donald Trump, who tweeted after his historic June 12 summit with Kim that "there was no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea."

Analysts at the CIA and other intelligence agencies don't see it that way, according to more than a dozen American officials who are familiar with their assessments and spoke on the condition of anonymity. They see a regime positioning itself to extract every concession it can from the Trump administration — while clinging to nuclear weapons it believes are essential to survival.

The result of the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore was a "freeze for freeze" deal. North Korea stopped its nuclear and missile testing while the U.S. stopped the large maneuvers it regularity held with South Korea's army. Both sides agreed to further talks. North Korea made some aspirational statements about denuclearization which have the same time frame as similar aspirational statements made by the U.S. in Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). There is no time frame to reach a certain state. There is no commitment towards declaring nuclear sites nor is there a commitment to stop the production of nuclear stuff.

Trump declaration that there is "no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea" is correct in the sense that there is certainly no North Korean intent to launch a nuclear attack.

Kim Jong Un will not only "try to hide" the North Korean nuclear facilities. He will surely keep them secret as long as he can. The security of his country depend on them.

That "more than a dozen American officials" talk with NBC on that issue shows that there is a concerted operation to sabotage a possible deal. Those opposed try to move the goalposts.

While the North Koreans have stopped missile and nuclear tests, "there's no evidence that they are decreasing stockpiles, or that they have stopped their production," said one U.S. official briefed on the latest intelligence. "There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the U.S."

Four other officials familiar with the intelligence assessment also said North Korea intended to deceive the U.S.

Why is it "deceiving" when North Korea continues something that it did not promise to stop? Why is it "deceiving" when North Korea rejects to submit targeting coordinates of its nuclear facilities? There is no deceiving in either.

The intelligence assessment the "American officials" (the term includes Congress staffers) talk about says that North Korea has the well known Uranium enrichment site in Yongbyon, a second one at an unnamed place and possibly a third one. All of this was known to people who read the details about the issue. They are not new and were certainly known to the CIA boss Pompeo and Trump while the negotiations took place:

Ankit Panda @nktpnd - 12:00 UTC - 30 Jun 2018
These assessments have been around since at least May, I understand, so POTUS should have been briefed prior to the Singapore summit.

The "leak" to the NBC/CIA's Ken Dilanian lacks any surprising content. The only interesting point is that it happened at all. It demonstrates that are are serious forces who will try their best to sabotage the talks and a possible agreement.

To take the next steps towards a larger deal and towards peace on the Korean peninsula will require month of diligent and detailed talk and serious attention by senior administration officials. Until a special envoy is named to lead further talks Secretary of State Pompeo will continue the negotiations. He will visit Pyongyang next week to push the issue.

In my view the Korea talks are one of the few things the Trump administration is doing right. It is sad that many are out to destroy them.

Posted by b at 02:45 PM | Comments (49)