Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 04, 2016

Pundits Knew It Early On - Trump Could Not Win The Nomination

It's Trump - The Atlantic, May 4 2016

Posted by b at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2016

The "Free Syrian Army" Media Efforts Are A British Government Operation

The U.S. government, via its CIA, has financed the "moderate" anti-Syrian mercenaries fighting against the legitimate Syrian government with at least $1 billion a year. The Wahhabi dictatorships in the Middle East have added their own billions to finance al-Qaeda's efforts against the Syrian people. The U.S. continues to purchase and transport thousands of tons of weapons and ammunition to feed the war against the Syrian people. It also pays the various fighters and opposition groups. The U.S. efforts for regime change in Syria have been running since at least 2006 when the U.S. government started to finance anti-Syrian exile TV stations and held intensive planning talks with various anti-Syrian Islamist elements.

Together with the British government it also runs the current pro-mercenary public relation show to influence the "western" public to support its imperial meddling in Syria.

The Guardian now unveils one of the British government efforts to effectively run the complete "Free Syrian Army" media show:

The British government is waging information warfare in Syria by funding media operations for some rebel fighting groups, ...
Contractors hired by the Foreign Office but overseen by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) produce videos, photos, military reports, radio broadcasts, print products and social media posts branded with the logos of fighting groups, and effectively run a press office for opposition fighters.

Materials are circulated in the Arabic broadcast media and posted online with no indication of British government involvement.
Through its Conflict and Stability Fund the government is spending £2.4m on private contractors working from Istanbul to deliver “strategic communications and media operations support to the Syrian moderate armed opposition” (MAO).

The contract is part of a broader propaganda effort focused on Syria, with other elements intended to promote “the moderate values of the revolution” ...
The documents call for contractors to “select and train a spokesman able to represent all the MAO groups as a single unified voice”, as well as providing media coaching to “influential MAO officials” and running a round-the-clock “MAO central media office” with “media production capacity”. One British source with knowledge of the contracts in action said the government was essentially running a “Free Syrian army press office”.

The British and the U.S. media also run various "civil" groups to further their regime change goals.

The "White Helmets", known for fake "rescue" videos and their strong cooperation with al-Qaeda (vid), are financed with $23 million by the U.S. government through USAID, with £18.7 million by the U.K. Foreign Office and with several millions more from other governments. But are the "White Helmets" not "moderates" who only want to help people? The U.S. government does not seem to believe that. It just banned the head of the "White Helmets" from entering the United States even though it finances his activities.

Many social media accounts like @raqqa_sl, which are promoted in "western" media, also distribute fake pictures and videos as part of these propaganda efforts.

But even when these media manipulation campaigns and fake "moderates" get exposed their operations continues unabated. The Guardian, after publishing the above, will not for one moment reflect on how its own publishing on Syria was influenced by the government financed fakes. It is, just like other mainstream media, an integrated part of the campaign.

No unveiling of the truth about the "western" attack on the Syrian state and its people seems to any effect on the ongoing media operations. On April 20 the U.S. military spokesperson for the anti-Islamic State coalition told some truth about the role of al-Qaeda in the "rebel" occupied eastern Aleppo city:

That said, it's primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo, and of course, al-Nusra is not part of the cessation of hostilities.

Only two weeks later the NYT propagandist Anna Barnard has the Chutzpah to claim that al-Qaeda only

has a small presence in Aleppo

Lies get repeated even after they have been debunked again and again. The relentlessness of the propaganda onslaught is effective in suppressing any larger opposition to it.

Posted by b at 12:26 PM | Comments (65)

May 02, 2016

Kerry To Negotiate New Ceasefire In Syria - But With His Own Side

U.S. Secretary of State is in Geneva today to renegotiate a cessation of hostilities between the Syrian government forces and the foreign supported "rebels" in Syria. But there is something very curious going on with these negotiations. Kerry will neither talk with the Syrian government nor with the Russians. The Russian Foreign Minister is not even expected to come.

No, Kerry is negotiating  with the U.S. allies Jordan and Saudi Arabia who support the same "rebels" that are opposed to the Syrian government that the U.S. itself supported all along. He now asks them to separate their proxy forces in Syria from the terrorist organization al-Qaeda/Jabhat al-Nusra.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday he hoped to make progress in talks in Geneva over the next two days toward renewing a cessation of hostilities agreement throughout Syria and resuming peace talks to end the fighting.

"The hope is we can make some progress," Kerry said at the start of a meeting with Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh shortly after arriving in Geneva.
The Syrian army announced on Friday a "regime of calm", or lull in fighting, which applied to Damascus and some of its outskirts, and parts of northwestern coastal province Latakia. But it excluded Aleppo.

Kerry made clear that a ceasefire was needed throughout Syria and he hoped to be able to reaffirm the cessation of hostilities after talks in Geneva. He is due to meet Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and De Mistura on Monday.

According to military spokesperson of the U.S. alliance against the Islamic State, Colonel Warren, the "rebel" occupied parts of Aleppo city are under control of al-Qaeda:

[I]t's primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo, and of course, al-Nusra is not part of the cessation of hostilities. So it's complicated.

Two UN Security Council Resolution calls on all UN members to "eradicate" al-Qaeda/al-Nusra. ALL UNSC members agreed to Resolution 2254 which:

Reiterates its call in resolution 2249 (2015) for Member States to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), Al-Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL [...] and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Syria, and notes that the aforementioned ceasefire will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against these individuals, groups, undertakings and entities,...

There is simply no basis for Kerry to beg for a ceasefire for "rebel" held areas of Aleppo city when his own military says that these are in the hands of al-Qaeda which the UNSC calls to eradicate. The Russian's have said that much.

So here is what Kerry is left to do: Beg the U.S. allies to move away their "Free Syrian Army" proxy groups from al-Qaeda so al-Qaeda can be eradicated by the Syrian Army and its allies.

But al-Qaeda is by now an integrated part of those Saudi/Qatar/U.S. paid proxy forces and well accepted by those groups. It gets its weapons and ammunition from the very proxy groups the U.S. now wants to separate from it. Even if the Saudis and Jordanians assert their influence over these groups it is unlikely that the fighters on the ground will follow their directives.

The Russian air force is ready to renew its bombing campaign against all opposition forces in Syria that do not agree to a cessation of hostilities.

No U.S. propaganda campaign can wave away al-Qaeda's presence in Syria nor the UNSC resolutions the U.S. itself agreed to. Either Kerry manages to pressure Saudi Arabia and Jordan to move their proxies away from al-Qaeda or there will be again an all out Russian campaign to eradicate them. It is unlikely that any of those proxies would survive such a campaign.

Kerry is now left to negotiate with U.S allies against al-Qaeda. He now has to argue from the same perspective as the Syrian and Russian government. This is a mess of his own making. How will he escape from it?

Posted by b at 07:00 AM | Comments (72)

April 29, 2016

Open Thread 2016-17

(Sorry for not posting. A project I am involved has a hard end-of-month deadline and it will still take some effort to reach that. - b)

News & views ...

(Please keep the U.S. elections stuff to older threads.)

Posted by b at 09:08 AM | Comments (201)

April 26, 2016

Open Thread 2016-16

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:44 PM | Comments (236)

April 25, 2016

Syria - Russia Rejects Kerry's New Attempts To Shield The Terrorists

The U.S. admits that the upcoming Aleppo offensive by the Syrian government and its allies is designed to hit al-Qaeda and associated terrorist forces and not primarily the "moderate" unicorns the U.S. propaganda blushes about. But the openly U.S. supported forces will also be hit as they are very much integrated with al-Qaeda. The U.S. has for long considered al-Qaeda a secret ally in its attempt to destroy the Syrian state. The French magazine L'Orient Le Jour sees the U.S. relation with al-Qaeda in Syria as part of the attrition strategy the U.S. is waging against Syria (and Russia).

Secretary of State Kerry tried to convince the Russian that al-Qaeda should not be attacked during the cessation of hostilities. But the Russian's did not agree. Al Qaeda is a UN recognized international terrorist organization which, under UNSC resolutions, must be fought. The U.S. only succeeded in downgrading the permanent ceasefire the Russians had preferred to into a temporary cessation hostilities. It thought to use the time to rearm and to regroup its proxy forces.

But then thing went wrong. An offensive along the Turkish border to push away the Islamic State and to seal the border between the Islamic State and Turkey failed. Al-Qaeda convinced other groups, including directly U.S. supported CIA assets, to prematurely attack Syrian government forces south of Aleppo on Tal el-Eis. The attack mad only little progress before it was stopped.

Now al-Qaeda and the U.S. proxies are heavily targeting the government held western arts of Aleppo city:

Elijah J. Magnier ‏@EjmAlrai 13h13 hours ago
#Aleppo observed the most violent day in d history of d war in #Syria causing 21 killed & 95 wounded. Every single street was hit by rebels+

Since the announcement of the cease-fire, over 492 killed & wounded were registered in the only 2 hospitals in regime held area in #Aleppo.

Rebels hell bombs fell on all streets w/o exception while a group of rebels were trying 2infiltrate d city in West #Aleppo, trapped n sewage

This continued today

Elijah J. Magnier ‏@EjmAlrai 2h2 hours ago
17 killed and 92 wounded in #Aleppo regime controlled area today following rebels Hell cannon bombing. #Syria.

These attacks on the population are designed to bait the Syrian government forces into an immediate all-out attack into the al-Qaeda held parts of Aleppo city. I doubt that they will fall for it. The response for now will be more intense bombing in preparation for a well thought out attack later on.

Kerry recently again tried to convince the Russian government of partitioning Syria into "zones of interest". This would shield terrorist forces form further Syrian and Russian attacks:

“We’ve even proposed drawing a line, an absolute line, and saying, ‘You don’t go over there, we don’t go over here, and anything in between is fair game.’ And they are considering that, and I think we will get there in the next week or so.”

The rather harsh public response to that Kerry nonsense came in today:

MFA Russia @mfa_russia
#Lavrov: Splitting Syria into zones of influence is a simplistic idea; the main objective must be to route terrorism @mod_russia @RussiaUN

#Lavrov: US has not fulfilled its promise made two months ago to move “good opposition forces” away from the terrorist front lines in Syria

#Lavrov: The US State Dept. may shy away from cooperation with Russia, but there is no place for shyness in the fight against terrorism

#Lavrov: The UNSC declared Jabhat al-Nusra a terrorist group. Those who want to distance themselves from this group should do so physically

Translation: Get your proxies out of the way or they will get hurt badly.

The U.S. "plan B" of splitting Syria into statelets has been rejected by the Syrian government and its allies.

The Syrian government and its allies are convinced that they can beat al-Qaeda and its various associates on the battle field. They are preparing a large attack against al-Qaeda and anyone nearby. There is little the U.S. can do to help the designated terrorists of al-Nusra in west Syria. But it continues its attempts to split Syria by inserting more of its special forces into north east Syria. These and their Kurdish proxy fighters have the task to take as much of eastern Syria from the Islamic State and others as possible before the Syrian government forces can do so. The thinking is that any captured town will be an asset in future negotiations. It will be interesting to see how the Syrian government and its allies will counter that move.

Posted by b at 02:09 PM | Comments (63)

April 24, 2016

U.S. Officials Confirm - Syrian Army Attack In Aleppo To Hit Al-Qaeda

Assistant Secretary Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs U.S. Department of State
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2015, Transcript (pdf)

Ambassador PATTERSON: That is true in the north, Mr. Issa. I would say that it is not true in the south. But, certainly, in the north, the al-Nusra Front, which is an al-Qaeda affiliate, has absorbed, as have other smaller groups, have absorbed a number of what we would have previously called the moderate opposition, yes, that is correct.

U.S. Department of State, Mark C. Toner Deputy Spokesperson, Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC, February 22, 2016

QUESTION: -- [..] Is there not – I mean, my understanding is that at least some of these [moderate] groups are commingled [with alQaeda]. You assert that you feel that you are able to delineate the territories that are inhabited by ISIL or by Nusrah or by the other groups deemed terrorist. What makes you so confident you can do that? Do you not believe that there is at least some commingling of these groups? Or intermingling?

MR TONER: I would respectfully defer to others with a better knowledge of conditions on the ground. But yes, I believe there is some commingling of these groups. I think that’s a reality; we’ve talked about it before.

Department of Defense Press Briefing by Col. Warren via Teleconference from Baghdad, Iraq
Colonel Steve Warren, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman - April 20, 2016

COL. WARREN: [..] What I do know is that we have seen, you know, regime forces with some Russian support as well begin to mass and concentrate combat power around Aleppo. So this is something we're concerned about and something we'll keep an eye on.

That said, it's primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo, and of course, al-Nusra is not part of the cessation of hostilities.

Russian Military Buildup Near Aleppo, Syria, Threatens Truce, Kerry Warns - NY Times April 23 2015

Mr. Kerry said that the Russians might be moving on Aleppo because members of the Al Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al Qaeda, were mixed throughout parts of the region, and that they were terrorists not party to the cease-fire. At the same time, he said, the region is home to insurgent groups that oppose Mr. Assad and have agreed to the cease-fire. 
“That has proven harder to separate them than we thought,” Mr. Kerry said. “And there’s a Russian impatience and a regime impatience with the terrorists who are behaving like terrorists and laying siege to places on their side and killing people.”

For the last several days the government held parts of Aleppo city and the 2,000,000 inhabitants and refugees there have been under constant bombardment with improvised gas-canister mortars and rockets from the al-Nusra side.

Some heavy operations against the al-Qaeda held areas in Aleppo governate and Aleppo city are inevitable and now seem to be imminent. The statements the U.S. officials made above seem to justify such an operation.

Posted by b at 01:44 PM | Comments (50)

April 23, 2016

Meltdown in Libya

by Richard Galustian

The fallout of the continuing meltdown of Libya will be felt hard in in particularly Southern European countries.

The Tripoli and western town's militias are continuing to make hundreds of millions of dollars sending even more tens of thousands of migrants north to the EU.

All changed for the worse last week with a number of pronouncements and events, though reading mainstream media, you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise. First Britain's Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond announced he didn't need Parliament to send troops involving the UK in another quagmire that would prove similar to its disastrous involvement in Afghanistan. Hammond, within hours, back tracked on that idea under pressure from Parliament.

Meanwhile the UN and EU has also stated it will change formally international recognition status, from the House of Representatives (HOR) parliament to Serraj, whether or not HOR recognize the Government of National Accord (GNA) which would give the UN appointed Serraj control of Libya’s vast foreign assets, estimated at $140 billion.

The saga further continued last Monday night when Serraj's addressed more than 50 of the great and good; foreign and defense ministers of the European Union gathered at a dinner in Luxembourg, his words coming to them by video screen.

Despite the fact that the HOR in Tobruk, had not decided to accept the GNA nevertheless illogically the EU's Federica Mogerini reaction to Serraj's presentation that same evening, perpetuating the charade of his Unity government, stated she had €100m to give him!

To remind readers, over two weeks ago Serraj arrived in Tripoli with no more than 7 men were on the ship, the remnants of what should have been a 9-man Presidential Council. And where are the 30 ministers and 60 deputy ministers that constitute the GNA?

Plucked from obscurity by the UN, a Tripoli businessman was selected, one Fayez Serraj, to bring peace to Libya, who they expect to end the war between the Islamist National Salvation government in Tripoli and the elected parliament (HOR) in Tobruk. The further expectation then is for Serraj to head a united Libyan army crushing both ISIS and the migrant-smuggling gangs, the West’s twin Libya headaches. Impossible!

To preserve this illusion, western dignitaries staged visits to the Libyan capital, a virtual 'Potemkin Village' show.

They land amid tight security at the city center Mitega airport, guarded by their own small army and by the few militias who have taken Serraj’s side, and his promise of fat pay rises. From there it is a nervy two mile dash in armored cars down the coastal highway to the naval base. Once the dignitaries are inside then there are the all-important photographs showing handshakes before scurrying away again.

Also last Monday the British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond paid a very short visit to Tripoli's Naval 'bunker' as it has become known.

A few days earlier the French, Italian and German foreign ministers completed this sham also. Soon after the French and German VIP planes flew away though, a militia blew up the home of a politician who had dared object to the new government. Hours later, another militia attacked the Tripoli home of deputy designate prime minister, Ahmed Maiteeg. Neither man was home, wisely staying well clear of this militia-infested city, but the second attack saw rival militias bring tanks onto the streets in fighting that spluttered for five hours. Of Serraj there was no sign. He has spent most of the last few weeks abroad, in Cairo, Istanbul, London and Tunis, anywhere but Libya.

None of this was mentioned in Monday night’s Luxembourg gala dinner. EU leaders maintained the facade, and in fact enhanced it, promising to send diplomats to Tripoli, a city almost equivalent to Sarajevo of the early 90s.

Last month both the EU and the UN however threatened sanctions on 'spoilers' - the threatened asset freeze and travel bans - on men for daring to object to the Serraj government. One, Abdul Rahman Swehli caved in quickly to EU pressure was rewarded by being anointed as 'President' of the so called State Council. Other 'spoilers', of which Gen. Hafter is one, can expect the same despite the fact he has almost won the Battle for Benghazi against extremists. However only one man this week so far has been named to the sanctions list under President Obama’s executive sanctions order against 'spoiler' Libyans and that is Khalifa al-Ghweil, the leader of the Islamist Tripoli Government. So far he’s the only addition. No doubt more will be added. That US Executive order will be implemented by the UN not the EU.

Unless the HOR's Saleh is also intimidated sufficiently by UN to say yes soon to Serraj's phantom GNA government, he could be next on the list. He is already sanctioned by the EU.

The UN's Martin Kobler also this week in Tobruk made Salah an offer, in Don Corleone's words, he can't refuse!

But even if the HOR does accept the GNA, which they allegedly did the other day, that still will not bring peace to Libya, only the facade of there being a unity government. Recently both Libya's rivals eastern and western central banks announced plans to print their own new currency. I predict a country that will eventually split.

Posted by b at 05:59 AM | Comments (36)

April 21, 2016

When Media Shill For Saudi Money

A timely Washington Post piece looks at how the Saudis bribe left, right and center:

Saudi government has vast network of PR, lobby firms in U.S.

The Saudi government and its affiliates have spent millions of dollars on U.S. law, lobby and public relations firms to raise the country’s visibility in the United States and before the United Nations at a crucial time.
Five lobby and PR firms were hired in 2015 alone, signaling a stepped-up focus on ties with Washington. The firms have been coordinating meetings between Saudi officials and business leaders and U.S. media, ...

The Saudis are getting some bang for their money.

And just today these three well-paid-for pieces appeared. Notice how they have a common, lobby induced theme:

They may have promoted al Qaeda’s poisonous ideology. But Saudi Arabia is too valuable an ally against today’s terrorism to allow ordinary Americans to make the kingdom pay.
While Tehran continues to sow anti-American terrorism across the Middle East, Riyadh holds the key to regional stability. This is not the time to back away from the House of Saud.
The Saudis are particularly angry about the Iran nuclear deal, and they believe that only the next U.S. president -- whether it's Hillary Clinton or even Donald Trump -- will be able to restore Saudi Arabia's status as America's key ally in the Middle East.
  • The biggest sellout yet is Bloomberg which whored out the May issue of Businessweek, including the cover, to a Saudi prince:

The $2 Trillion Project to Get Saudi Arabia’s Economy Off Oil - Eight unprecedented hours with “Mr. Everything,” Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In Prince Mohammed, the U.S. may find a sympathetic long-term ally in a chaotic region.

The Saudi mafia clan is not just itself corrupt. It is massively corrupting others. It bribes them to do take part in their crimes, no matter how nefarious. Just consider this, mentioned in the WaPo lobby piece above:

In 2014, consultants at the PR firm Qorvis developed content for the Saudi Arabia embassy’s YouTube and Twitter pages, and ran the Twitter account for the Syrian Opposition Coalition.

The Saudis are the major money behind the war on Syria. They are building ISIS and Al-Qaeda not only in Syria but also in Yemen and elsewhere. A former Saudi foreign minister, quoted in in yesterdays Financial Times (see here), admitted such:

Saud al-Feisal, the respected Saudi foreign minister, remonstrated with John Kerry, U.S. secretary of state, that "Daesh [ISIS] is our [Sunni] response to your support for the Da'wa" - the Tehran aligned Shia Islamist ruling party of Iraq.

Whoever shills for the Saudis should be considered adhering to enemies.

Posted by b at 11:19 AM | Comments (94)

April 20, 2016

Open Thread 2016-15

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:46 PM | Comments (163)

Israel's "Unique Global Breakthrough Technology" - Bribe The Enemy

The NYT is marketing some pretended Israeli technological supremacy.

Israelis Find New Tunnel From Gaza Into Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the discovery, saying, “the state of Israel has achieved a global breakthrough in the ability to locate tunnels.”

Describing the breakthrough as “unique,” but without providing any details of the technology involved, Mr. Netanyahu added, “The government is investing considerable capital in countering the tunnel threat. This is an ongoing effort that will not end overnight.”

Hmm ... "considerable capital". Yes, I believe that was the indeed involved in this "detection" of a tunnel. But why is this described by the NYT journo as if there was some "technology involved"?

Did the NYT bureau in Israel really miss these rumors which have been circulating for days?

According to various reports, a senior commander of the Gaza tunnel division has defected to Israel. If this publication is accurate, he may be able to provide new details which were unknown to the IDF and ISA about what is happening under the Gaza Strip.

So the "global breakthrough in the ability to locate tunnels” is the "technology" of bribing a senior Hamas commander with "considerable capital".

That is historically "unique"? In Israel?

Posted by b at 01:37 PM | Comments (12)

April 19, 2016

Sec State Kerry: Proud Of Undermining The Nuclear Deal With Iran

When in January the deal about Iran's nuclear program (JCPOA) went into its implementation phase we asked When And How Will The U.S. Infringe On The Iran Deal?

I predicted:

[T]he U.S. is never short of some subterfuge to to break agreements. Some reason will be found that then will be used to infringe on the nuclear agreement and to implement new measures to hinder Iran's development.

That seems to have been correct and the answers to the "When" and "How" of U.S. infringement are now in.

On January 16, the implementation day, Secretary of State Kerry said:

To get to this point, ladies and gentlemen, Iran has undertaken significant steps that many – and I do mean many – people doubted would ever come to pass. And that should be recognized, even though the full measure of this achievement can only be realized by assuring continued full compliance in the coming years. In return for the steps that Iran has taken, the United States and the EU will immediately lift nuclear-related sanctions, expanding the horizon of opportunity for the Iranian people. And I have even tonight, before coming over here, signed a number of documents over those sanctions that the State Department has jurisdiction over in order to effect that lifting.

But four month later Iran can still not access its money that was frozen under sanctions. It can not buy anything significant with it. The U.S. is blackmailing the banks not to release one penny of Iran's money. It did not drain the sanction morass added to it.

Indeed the very next day after Kerry's announcement the U.S. raised new sanctions against Iran

The White House immediately announced a new set of sanctions against 11 Iranian companies, institutions and individual people because Iran had tested a ballistic missile the previous autumn.

Last month came more of the same. This time the Iranians conducted several missile tests over a period of two days. And on March 25 the administration announced another round of sanctions, these once again imposed by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The U.S. claims that Iran, by testing ballistic missiles, somehow infringes on UN Security Council Resolution 2231. But that resolution only "calls upon Iran", i.e. politely asks, to not test missiles designed to be nuclear capable.

There is also a deep logical flaw in the U.S. argumentation:

Iran has certifiably dismantled all aspects of its nuclear program that would have made it capable of weaponizing enriched uranium. Nonetheless, say the Americans, we will impose sanctions on Iran for developing missile technology that would make it capable of firing one of the nuclear weapons we have just made certain it cannot build.

Besides those new sanction over ballistic missiles the U.S. is doing everything to block any real relief from the old sanctions.

As soon as the sanctions over the nuclear program were formally lifted, the U.S. send its bureaucrats out to warn off any bank from doing business with Iran:

Cont. reading: Sec State Kerry: Proud Of Undermining The Nuclear Deal With Iran

Posted by b at 01:52 PM | Comments (46)

April 18, 2016

Syria - "Rebel" Sponsors Order A New Round Of Defeat

The Obama administration has obviously decided to restart the war in Syria. Thousands of tons of new weapons have been purchased and delivered to the Jihadists including anti-air MANPADs of U.S. (full text) and Chinese origin. Half of the weapons the "rebel" mercenaries are given by their sponsors regularly end up in the hands of Al-Qaeda in Syria. We will not be surprised when a few weeks from now a civilian passenger plane will be hit and come down in Turkey or elsewhere.

Two week ago the foreign supported "rebels" already broke the ceasefire when they took part in a large al-Qaeda attack south of Aleppo city. Several "rebel" attacks took place against the Kurdish quarter in Aleppo city with over a hundred civilian death. Other attacks took place in north Latakia.

Today the "rebels" announced a full return to open war and more fronts were reopened including in north Hama where Uighur "Turkmen" Jihadis used two suicide bombers against the Syrian government positions.

The UN sponsored talks in Geneva went nowhere and the "rebel" side now suspended them to renew the fighting. Only three men of the Saudi controlled "rebel" negotiating team attended today. They still insist on the unconstitutional removal of the Syrian president before agreeing to any further talks about a unity government.

The Syrian army has suspended its ongoing offensive against the Islamic State. The plan was to march from the recently freed Palmyra to the Islamic State held Deir Ezzor in the east. The troops have now been recalled to protect the Syrian people from the renewed "rebel" attacks in west Syria. This may well fit the U.S. intentions in its phony war on ISIS.

There will soon be reports about local retreats of the Syrian army from this or that town or hill. Do not give them too much weight. Since the Russian intervention last year the Syrian troops have orders to retreat when under hard pressure. This to preserve manpower. As soon has the enemy occupies a position the artillery and air force will take care of them. Then, when the enemy attack has been blunted, the Syrian army and their allies on the ground will reoccupy the position and if possible launch counterattacks.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Suleiman visited Moscow last week. After his first visit last summer the Russian intervention was planned and executed. It brought the "rebels" to the border of total defeat. Their sponsors then agreed to a ceasefire and to hold talks in Geneva. Since the ceasefire announcement on February 27 the time was used by the U.S. to rearm and reposition the "rebel" force.

It seems that another round of the cycle is now necessary. Iran has deployed regular ground troops in Syria and these, even while not yet battle-tested, will have some effect. The Syrian air force has been reequipped and its older planes have been updated. Russian helicopters are active on the Syrian front and new short range (200 km) "Iskander" ballistic missiles were recently seen. The Russian air force can additionally engage with long range flights from Russia against fixed targets in Syria within hours. Russia cruise missile carrying ships are near the Syrian coast.

It is foolish to believe that MANPADs and TOW anti tank systems can decisively change the situation on the ground. I expect that a few week of heavy fighting will now follow after which the "rebels" will again be exhausted and again on the border of defeat.

Posted by b at 02:32 PM | Comments (66)

April 17, 2016

Congress Threatens To Seize Saudi U.S. Assets

Some current nonsense headlines in the U.S. media read like this: Saudis threaten sell-off of U.S. assets if 9/11 suits are allowed:

Saudi Arabia has warned the United States not to revoke its sovereign immunity, protecting the kingdom from lawsuits related to Sept. 11, or it will sell off hundreds of billions in American assets.

It is not the Saudis who are threatening something. It is the U.S. Congress that is threatening to lift the immunity of nation states in front of U.S. courts:

The Senate bill is intended to make clear that the immunity given to foreign nations under the law should not apply in cases where nations are found culpable for terrorist attacks that kill Americans on United States soil. If the bill were to pass both houses of Congress and be signed by the president, it could clear a path for the role of the Saudi government to be examined in the Sept. 11 lawsuits.

Under the bill a civil U.S. person could file in a U.S. court against nation states for acts or omissions(!) of that nation state related to some "terrorist act". U.S. courts are notorious for dubious rulings against foreign states, impounding and seizing huge assets of such states.

In 2012 Congress passed a law that specifically allowed victims of terrorist attacks allegedly related to Iran to collect judgements against the Iranian state. Judges started to rule in favor of billions in compensatory damages to victims and to impound even assets of Iranian charities. One of these cases and the anti-Iranian law are now in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Immunity against such judgements is standard international law and known as "acta iure imperii" - the principal that no foreign court can judge the liability of a nation state for acts and omissions in the exercise of the nation state's authority.

Should the U.S. Congress break that principal, any foreign national wealth fund, pension fund or otherwise state related institution could have its U.S. assets impounded under this or that dubious terrorism judgement.

The Saudis would be utterly stupid to leave even a penny invested in the U.S. or in U.S. bonds should that law pass.

This not because the Saudi state had something to do or not with 9/11. Even a claim that the Saudi state somehow neglected to prevent some of its nationals to commit terrorism could, under the new law, be enough to seize U.S. investment of a Saudi national wealth fund. The Saudis said they would withdraw their $750 billion in U.S. assets should the law pass. That would be simply a necessary and prudent move and announcing that move is not "a threat".

If the law should pass not only the Saudis but any other nation state could and should pass similar laws and allow their use against the United States. Some Russian widow of a solider who died years ago from wounds received in Afghanistan by U.S. supported Mujaheddin, aka terrorists, could have U.S assets in Russia seized as compensation. Many South America countries have fought against U.S. instigated terrorism. There are many victims who could sue over such cases and there are many U.S. assets to seize.

To sue against U.S. assets under such laws would be a profitable business for some enterprising lawyers. One wonders how Congress would react when the first U.S. assets get seized.

Posted by b at 12:37 PM | Comments (63)

April 16, 2016

Clinton Lied - Benghazi Attack Was Part Of A Larger Operation

The conservative group Judicial Watch has FOIAed documents of then Secretary of State Clinton related to the September 11 2012 attack in Benghazi which killed a U.S. ambassador and several CIA honchos. The documents prove that the Obama administration knew that the attack in Benghazi was part of an Al-Qaeda operation. Clinton and the Obama administration have publicly claimed the attack was in reaction to some anti-Muslim movie that was circling on the Internet.

That was obviously nonsense. My post about the incidents written in the early morning of September 12 was headlined: U.S. Ambo in Benghazi Killed In AQ Operation. All known facts pointed to that conclusion.

The documents Judicial Watch got released through several Freedom of Information court decisions confirm that my take was correct and that Clinton and the Obama administration knew that the attack in Benghazi was part of a well organized al-Qaeda operation.

From the Judicial Watch press release:

Judicial Watch announced today it has obtained new documents from the Department of State containing the telephone transcripts from the evening of September 11, 2012, in which then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton informs then-Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil that the deadly terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi “had nothing to do with the film.”
Similarly, Judicial Watch litigation also forced the release of the September 11, 2012 email in which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton informed her daughter by email that the attack had been staged by an “Al Qaeda-like group,” rather than as the result of “inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” as Mrs. Clinton had claimed in her official public statement one hour earlier.

In her phone call with the Egyptian Prime Minister Clinton also said:

Based on the information we saw today we believe the group that claimed responsibility for these is associated with Al-Qaeda.

The known facts let me believe that the group who planned and initiated the attack was not only "associated with Al-Qaeda" but the Al-Qaeda leadership itself.

September 11 2012, U.S. Embassy Cairo

Consider again the circumstances as detailed in my earlier piece. On September 11 2012 three things happen:

Cont. reading: Clinton Lied - Benghazi Attack Was Part Of A Larger Operation

Posted by b at 01:00 PM | Comments (90)

April 14, 2016

Islamic State Attacks, Occupies Erdogan's "Safe Zone"

The Turkish President Erdogan offered the U.S. "Turkmen" troops to take the Syrian-Turkish border region currently held by the Islamic State. In return he demanded that the U.S. stop its support for the Syrian-Kurdish YPG group that also fights the Islamic State. Erdogan's new demand comes on top of the long standing plan to create a "safe zone" in north Syria in which refugees and "rebels" would be kept safe under a Turkish artillery and U.S. air umbrella.

Over the last two weeks "Turkmen" (Turkish special forces, Turkish volunteers and some Uighur fighters) together with al-Qaeda and some Syrian "rebels" proceeded from the Azaz area towards east along the Turkish-Syrian border. With Turkish cross-border artillery support and U.S. A-10 ground attack air support they managed to take a dozen Syrian villages from the Islamic State. They also captured the important Al-Rai border station.

But the Islamic State counterattacked, reoccupied Al-Rai and today cut off some of the attacking "rebel" forces from their support area around Azaz (black arrow).

Here is a map of the current situation in north Syria.


In yellow shade the YPG held enclave around Efrin. In red the Syrian government held area around Aleppo city. In green the al-Qaeda and "rebel" held areas. The northern part around Azaz next to the Turkish border is the current point of action. The dark blackish areas are held by the Islamic State.

One can see the corridor next to the Turkish border which the Islamic Sate managed to cut today. It took several villages and a refugee camp that was established on the Syrian side. The refugee camp was then shelled by Turkish artillery to again drive out the Islamic State.

This attack demonstrates that the idea of "safe zones" in norther Syria is nonsense. Such "safe zones" would be major battle ground and would be attacked, as today, from two sides. They are indefensible. On top of that Erdogan's "Turkmen" have proven to be less capable than the YPG Kurds who have withstood similar attacks by the Islamic State.

Further south the Syrian army is near closing the corridor into eastern Aleppo city which is held by al-Qaeda (Jabhat al-Nusra) fighters. This "squeezing" and several other operations, marked with red arrows on the map, are in preparation for a large Syrian army attack along several axis in Aleppo governate and in Aleppo city.

Meanwhile hawks in the CIA and Pentagon want to turn the fighting in Syria into a campaign against the Russians. They want to provide serious anti-air capabilities to al-Qaeda and its "rebel" allies should the current cessation of hostilities not hold:

Officials said the CIA has made clear to its allies that the new systems, once agreed upon, would be given to the rebels only if the truce and the concurrent political track toward a lasting peace—Plan A—fall apart and full-scale fighting resumes.

I consider that to be a CIA offer to the "rebels": Break the ceasefire and you will be rewarded with better quality weapons.

One can only hope that the Obama White House, which earlier had rejected a proxy war with Russia, will therefore also reject this lunatic scheme.

Posted by b at 10:36 AM | Comments (52)

Pentagon Claims 2,750 Air Strikes Killed Just 500 Enemies

The Pentagon claims to have tens of thousands of Islamic State fighters by airstrikes. But, according to the published numbers, only very few were killed this year. At the same time the number of Islamic State fighters the Pentagon says are active and alive has remained essentially the same for over two years.

According to Pentagon claims documented below, just some 500 Islamic State fighters were killed by U.S. airstrikes in 2016. But its own Airpower Summary March 2016 says that between January and March 2,781 ground attack sorties were flown in Iraq and Syria with at least one weapon release each. Such a high sortie to kill rate is unprecedented. Who, if not Islamic State fighters, is the U.S. bombing?

Here is a list of the "Islamic State fighters killed" Pentagon claims:

Cont. reading: Pentagon Claims 2,750 Air Strikes Killed Just 500 Enemies

Posted by b at 09:05 AM | Comments (27)

April 12, 2016

Soft Coup In Libya Causes Meltdown, Breakup

(Note: This is a follow-up to Richard's recent introductive piece Libya - Tribes, Militia, Interests And Intervention)

By Richard Galustian

The UN backed General National Accord (GNA) arrived in Tripoli over a week ago and current events are looking more and more like a coup. Meanwhile last Friday PM Designate for the GNA suddenly flew to London on a "private visit"; odd time for him to leave Libya wouldn't you say?

There are consequences for Malta. A main one is that for most of the EU, the intended sanctions against GNA 'spoilers' are no problem for them as neither Abu Sahmain (Tripoli General National Congress, or GNC) nor Aguila Saleh (Tobruk House of Representatives, or HoR) are EU citizens and also neither have much in the way of overseas assets but the exception seems to be Malta. So the Maltese authorities are having to trawl through everything at the UN & EU's behest to find their assets and then to freeze them. Knowing that the UN/EU is likely to suddenly unfreeze them if these two men are intimidated enough to decide to cooperate. Either way Malta is put in an awkward position.

Let's backtrack a little. The GNA consisted in total of a nine-strong presidency council led by a UN selected prime minister, Fayez Serraj, and with Tripoli airspace closed, they were conveyed to their capital city by Italian frigate, transferring at sea to a small rusty Libyan coastal patrol vessel to preserve the illusion that they were not being helped by western powers. But the GNA had fractured even before they were helped aboard the Italian vessel, with two of the nine abruptly resigning, accusing the leadership of being too cozy with Tripoli militias and for their opposition to Gen. Hafter remaining head of the army.

Nevertheless, the so called GNA, more correctly called the Presidential Council, now reduced to seven, arrived in the capital, choosing to set up office in the naval base, the only part of the capital judged safe from roaming militias.

Cont. reading: Soft Coup In Libya Causes Meltdown, Breakup

Posted by b at 02:39 PM | Comments (31)

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