Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 31, 2015

Some Questions On Today's Mughniyah Stories

In the Washington Post Adam Goldman and Ellen Nakashima report today on the 2008 death of Hizbullah operator Imad Mughniyah.

On the same day Jeff Stein reports the same story for Newsweek. There are some differences in the details.

Mughniyah died from a tire blowout on a spare tire. The tire was filled with C4 explosives and metal balls and exploded at the back of a Toyota 4wd when Mughniyah walked past.

So far it had been assumed that the assassination had been a Mossad plot but the "news" in the story, based on "former U.S. intelligence officials", is that the CIA was heavily involved and that Bush gave the order to kill Mughniyah.

Two Israeli reporters, sometimes disseminators for Mossad phantasies, add some not so important bits.

The main difference between the two main stories, important in its legal aspect, is in who pressed the button. The Washington Post version:

The device was triggered remotely from Tel Aviv by agents with Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence service, who were in communication with the operatives on the ground in Damascus. “The way it was set up, the U.S. could object and call it off, but it could not execute,” said a former U.S. intelligence official.

The Newsweek version:

The kill was made all the harder by the way the bomb would be detonated. There was a two-second delay from the time the CIA and Mossad agents in the lookout post pushed the button to when the bomb exploded. Under the plan, the Mossad agent would ID Mugniyah, and the CIA man would press the remote control.
...
Finally, on the night of February 12, 2008, after two months of round-the-clock surveillance, they caught Mugniyah alone.

“They made a positive ID. Click. One, one thousand; two, one thousand...ka-boom.

So in the Neweek version some CIA guy is guilty of murder while in the Washington Post version somebody in Tel Aviv should be hanged for it.

According to Elijah J. Magnier, who in 2008 reported the story from the Syrian side, the Newsweek version is the more correct one. Magnier also had some additional details in his tweets today.

But aside from the content of the story, which I do not believe to be really relevant, there are questions that could need some answers:

Why is the Washington Post "dumping" the story into the Friday evening/Saturday morning news hole? Usually such a story would be published Saturday evening/Sunday morning thereby and fetch some time on the Sunday shows.

Why is the story coming out now? Has it to do with the spat between Obama and Netanyahoo? Is it a diversion from Israel's recent loss against Hizbullah? Has it to do with the U.S. negotiations with Iran?

The story was obviously ready for some time to be put out by two competing papers. Both were likely waiting for a go from their sources to publish it. Why was the "go" given now? By whom?

Posted by b on January 31, 2015 at 01:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (48)

January 30, 2015

Obama's Advice: "Do Not Trust My Public Words"

The Hill Jan 29 2015

Obama to Dems: 'Get informed, not by reading the Huffington Post'

PHILADELPHIA – President Obama on Thursday asked wary House Democrats to hold their fire while the administration negotiates several trade deals opposed by scores of liberal lawmakers.

“Keep your powder a little dry,” he told the Democrats assembled here for an annual retreat, according to a source in the closed-door session.

"Get informed," Obama also advised, "not by reading The Huffington Post."

What Obama meant to say was "Don't read the shit I write at the Huffington Post. It has nothing to do with my real plans."

Huffington Post Jan 29 2015

A Blueprint for Middle-Class Economics


bigger

I agree with Obama's advice. Do not read what he (lets) write for the public. Those claims are all wrong. Those words are lies. He is very likely to plan and do something very different from what he says. Do not trust him. Especially when he publicly opens his mouth.

Posted by b on January 30, 2015 at 10:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (33)

January 29, 2015

Libya - Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Again Hold A Public Office

Today's must read: Exclusive: Secret tapes undermine Hillary Clinton on Libyan war

Top Pentagon officials and a senior Democrat in Congress so distrusted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2011 march to war in Libya that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime in an effort to halt the escalating crisis, according to secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli.

The tapes, reviewed by The Washington Times and authenticated by the participants, chronicle U.S. officials' unfiltered conversations with Col. Moammar Gadhafi's son and a top Libyan leader, including criticisms that Mrs. Clinton had developed tunnel vision and led the U.S. into an unnecessary war without adequately weighing the intelligence community's concerns.
...
Instead of relying on the Defense Department or the intelligence community for analysis, officials told The Times, the White House trusted Mrs. Clinton's charge, which was then supported by Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice and National Security Council member Samantha Power, as reason enough for war.

Clinton is still laughing at that (vid): "We came, we saw, he died. Hahahahahaha ..."

I doubt that this was the last laugh on this issue.

Posted by b on January 29, 2015 at 01:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (85)

January 28, 2015

Lebanon, Syria: The Resistance Strikes Back

Around noon local time today Hizbullah attacked an Israeli military convoy in the occupied Sheeba farm area. Hizbullah released a statement claiming to have hit several Israeli vehicles with Kornet anti-tank missiles. The statement was labeled as "No. 1". Hizbullah obviously expects the situation to further escalate and to release further statements. It claims that the attack killed several Israeli soldiers. Israel's censors have so far not revealed the number of casualties on its side.

Last week Israel attacked a convoy in the Golan area in Syria killing Hizbullah fighters and Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops including high ranking officers. The UN declared that the attack was in breach of the 40 year old armistice between Syria and Israel. Before the attack the general situation in the Golan had calmed down. After the unprovoked attack Hizbullah and Iran threatened to respond. But Israel was not deterred.

Yesterday two un-aimed rockets were fired from the Syrian side of the Golan demarcation line, probably by Syrian Fee Army or Jabhat al-Nusra fighters which partially occupy the Syrian side and receive logistic and armed help from Israel. The rockets fell into open field and left no damage. The Israeli military responded with artillery fire on a Syrian army headquarter. Its twisted logic says that any attack on the Israeli side from Syria, even when done by Israel supported insurgents, is the responsibility of the Syrian army.

Tonight Israel again escalated the situation with an airforce attack on a Syrian army position in the Golan. Today's attack on the Israeli convoy is the (deserved) response for the various Israeli peace violations.

Israel responded to today's attack by firing some 30+ missiles and artillery rounds into Lebanon. One Spanish UN peacekeeper was killed when the well known UN position was hit by Israeli fire.

Hizbullah's intention is to re-introduce "rules of the game" and to deter any further Israeli attacks on Syria and Lebanon. It will take some serious damage and casualties on the Israeli side before Netayahoo, currently attempting to get reelected,  will accept such.

Posted by b on January 28, 2015 at 06:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (76)

January 27, 2015

Syria: IS Gives Up On Kobani, U.S. Rehabilitates Assad

The Islamic State has finally given up its attack on the Kurdish-Syrian town Kobani on the border to Turkey. It took 18 weeks to understand what deadly game the U.S. was playing there.

After pressuring Turkey the US. had inserted Kurdish fighters and forward air controllers (FACs) into the besieged city. These sucked Islamic State fighters into position where the FACs could observe them and direct U.S. air attacks onto them.

The tactic was used sparsely but that is what it made valuable. The Islamic State fighters fell for it again and again. One wave of reserves after the other was sucked into observable positions and destroyed. During four and a half month some 600 air-strikes killed about 1,400 Islamic State fighters around Kobani including high ranking commanders, important scholars and many foreigners. 600 air strikes during such a long time frame is a low number. During the 2006 Lebanon war the Israeli air force flew about as many strikes per day. But that low number deceived the Islamic State and let it believe that it could win a fight which in reality turned out to be a meat grinder.

The campaign is an important loss for the Islamic State because it shows that it is not invincible and can be defeated in a combined air and ground campaign when its fighters are attacking fixed targets. But this tactic will only work when the Islamic State army is out in the open, at the end of its logistic chain and attacking an buildup area that allows for decent defense. To dislodge the Islamic State when it itself is holding a town or city, like Mosul, will be more difficult.

Meanwhile a propaganda campaign in the U.S. media was launched to rehabilitate the Syrian president Bashar Assad. On January 19 the NYT propagandist Anna Barnard pointed to a (yet hardly observable) shift in the U.S. position towards the Syria war. On January 22 Leslie Gelb, Former chair of the influential Council of Foreign Relations, called for a deal with Assad. Gelb also pointed out that the Liberal Interventionists and Neocons in Obama's administration are still against cooperation with the Syrian establishment while the military seems to agree to such. Four days later a NYT editorial remarked on shifting realities in Syria:

[T]he greater threat now is not Mr. Assad but the Islamic State, especially if it continues to expand in Syria, entices more foreign fighters into its ranks and uses its territory to launch attacks on the West. A recent study by the RAND Corporation, which does research for the government, says the collapse of the Assad regime, while unlikely now, would be the “worst possible outcome” for American interests — depriving Syria of its remaining state institutions and creating more space for the Islamic State and other extremists to spread mayhem.

Yesterday Foreign Affairs, the magazine of the Council of Foreign Relations, published an interview with President Bashar Assad. In it Assad formal offers cooperation by the Syrian army with the U.S. air-force to defeat the Islamic State. He urges to put pressure on the Turkish government which allows the supplies and additional manpower for the Islamic State to cross its borders. Erdogan, Assad says, is "fanatical".

Interestingly I find nothing mentioned against Jordan and the U.S. puppet ruling it in the Assad interview. Jordan like Turkey supports Syrian insurgents including al-Qaeda in Syria in the form of Jabhat al-Nusra in their attacks in Syria. Does Assad believe that cooperating with the U.S. would take Jordan, and the southern campaign directed at Damascus, out of the game?

The southern campaign, also supported by Israel which Assad called al-Qaeda's air-force, announced a victory yesterday when it claimed to have taken out the Syrian's army brigade 82 in Sheik Miskin. Jabhat al-Nusra as well as the Fee Syrian army claimed to have won that battle. But it soon turned out that only the little defended brigade headquarter buildings were taken by them and that the brigade's fighting battalions and their weapons, stationed elsewhere, were not affected.

Comments to the various Assad rehabilitation pieces show that a lot of people in the "west" support cooperation with the Syrian government. The current spat between the White House and the Israeli premier Netanyahoo allow for a more lenient U.S. position toward Syria and helps push back Israeli wishes to destroy it. The fight in Kobani has shown that such cooperation with reliable boots on the ground is necessary and effective in defeating the Takfiris. The moment is right for a U.S. turn towards a reliable cooperation with Syria and with its president Bashar al-Assad.

Posted by b on January 27, 2015 at 04:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (74)

January 26, 2015

Should Syriza's Choose The Soft Or The Hard Path?

So Syriza won in Greece. It formed a new government in coalition with the small, rightwing Independent Greece party. Before the election Syriza announced a program that would have Greece stay in the Euro but renegotiate conditions for loans.

I hope that was a ploy. Yves Smith describes the difficulties with Syriza's soft path:

The nut of that problem, as we will see, is that while may be a very estimable-sounding position, it may not be as pragmatic as it appears. Greece likely has better odds of winning concessions if it is less reasonable, since the Germans and the even more implacable Fins are convinced that the periphery countries are immoral beggars who deserve to be ground into the dust if they cannot or will not pay their debts. Greece is unlikely to be able to shake the perception in the North that they have the upper hand and can force Greece to heel, giving at most only fairly minor concessions.

Greece’s best hope is if it there is an upsurge in popularity of other anti-austerity and anti-Eurozone parties in the rest of Europe. And they are more likely to rally support in the rest of the Eurozone if they take bold positions rather than careful, studied ones. And even then, that may not be enough for them to resolve the deep-seated problems they face. It isn’t simply that they face a very difficult challenge politically vis-a-vis the Troika, but that even if they get most of what they want, their policies do not look likely to generate enough demand to pull Greece out of its ditch.

Like Ian Welsh I would argue for Greece to take a harder course, at least during negotiations and, if those fail, to really walk the walk:

Greek debt is at a level which is effectively impossible to pay off and has been made much, much worse by all the “aid packages” and “bailouts” given by their “fellow” Europeans. (Aka. they should have defaulted years ago.)

As for the Euro, Greece can’t print it, and Greece will need to print money.

I worry that Syriza is serious about negotiating on the debt. There is essentially no chance the Troika (well, really, Germany) will give them acceptable terms on a writedown. Negotiations should be intended only to go on long enough to demonstrate that a good deal is not possible. While they are ongoing, the Greeks should be preparing for Grexit and repatriating all the resources they can.

Greece would become another pariah of the "western" world and Ian, correctly in my view, thinks that is a position in which it is not alone and which can be used to Greece's favor:

The media is playing this as an anti-austerity vote, and it is. But voting anti-austerity for a country like Greece which can’t feed itself, has no oil, and doesn’t have a lot of industry, is one thing: not being austere is another. If the Greeks want a decent life again, they will have to take on some of the most powerful nations in the world and at least fight to a draw.

Many nations are in the same boat as Greece is: Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Argentina. Greece needs to make the necessary alliances with such countries and it needs to align with the rising Chinese block.

Doing this requires a psychological step that Greeks may be unwilling to take: a recognition that their interests do not lie with Europe; an understanding that Europeans are willing to see them impoverished, homeless and dead. Greeks who are living in the past and think the EU is about prosperity for everyone in the EU need to learn otherwise.

Syriza might go the more radical path. If not it is likely to fail and then the door will be open for the hard right to take power and to start wars to divert the attention from the ever falling economy.

Posted by b on January 26, 2015 at 12:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (125)

January 25, 2015

Open Thread 2015-05

News & views ...

Posted by b on January 25, 2015 at 02:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (189)

January 24, 2015

Fox News(!) Says Israel Wants To Wipe Iran Off The Face Of The Earth

Fox News, the rightwing Rupert Murdock TV station, finally gets it:

The Israelian leaders talk about wiping Iran off the face of the earth"

Yep, that's right. Fox News is finally talking truth. It is the Israeli leaders who want to destroy Iran. It is not the other way around as the Israel lobby always claims.

The revelation comes from Fox News White House correspondent Chris Wallace at 3:35min (vid) in a discussion with Fox News anchor Shephard Smith about Netanyahoo's "invitation" to speak to Congress which was issued by the Republican speaker without the White House's knowledge.

Fox News is bashing Natanyahoo for the invite and the quote above is the topping on the ice cream.

Fox News defending Obama against Netanyahoo? Fox News explaining that Israel wants to destroy Iran? A moment ago I would have thought that impossible. What happened?

Posted by b on January 24, 2015 at 02:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (32)

Wondering About Today's Mariupol Attack

Today some barrage of Grad rockets was fired on an eastern suburb of Mariupol, a city in the south east of Ukraine and in the hands of the Ukrainian government. The 400,000 strong population of the city is believed to be in favor of the federalists fighting against the Ukrainian coup government. Last year it overwhelmingly voted (vid) to leave Ukraine. Some 30 people, all civilians, died in today's attack. There was no military target nearby. Whodunnit?

In September 2014 Hromadske TV, a new Ukrainian TV station financed by George Soros and the U.S. government, interviewed (vid) a former Ukrainian general Colonel General Vladimir Ruban. According to the provided translation he lauds the Ukrainian artillery which at that time shelled Donetsk from the airport but says that this just welds the people in Donetsk together. "They understand they are being shot at. It's one thing if attack groups or any mobile mortar troops drive through the city and shoot because you could say that this is just a sort of provocation by a third party. But if the artillery units fired from the airport then no one can claim that the separatists shoot themselves."

Two days ago a mortar attack on a bus in federalist held Donetsk which killed 13 people was likely done from within the federalists held city. While the Ukrainian government claimed that the federalists had themselves shelled the city they hold this seems quite unlikely to me. The Russia supported federalist later claimed that ten groups of Ukrainian partisans had infiltrated the city and that eight of those had been caught. This would fit the operational design earlier laid out by the former general.

Today's attack on Mariupol has no discernible military purpose. It makes absolutely no sense for the federalists to shell civilians in a city that is believed to be favorable to them. There is no clear evidence from where the shells were coming. The Ukrainian government claims the federalists did it while the federalists said they have no artillery nearby that could have reached the city and blame the coup government for the attack.

Today's attack is already used by hardliners to call for more European sanctions against Russia. Such sanctions would have no effect on Russia's position and are to the disadvantage of Europe. Only the U.S. and other hardliners who want a wider conflict with Russia would benefit form these.

In light of the mindset demonstrated by the former general and after the attack in Donetsk I tend to believe that this attack was a planned provocation by the Ukrainian side.

Posted by b on January 24, 2015 at 01:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (194)

January 23, 2015

Saudi Arabia: The Monster Is Dead, May The New Monster Die Soon

The obituaries of mainstream U.S. media and "western" politicians on the Saudi King Abdullah are laughingly sycophantic:

A master politician, he gained a reputation as a reformer without changing his country’s power structure and maintained good relations with the United States while striking an independent course in foreign policy.

The Post closed its comment section on the obit to not be called out for its bootlicking. How much did the Saudis pay for this coverage? For a realistic view on the now dead monster read the Guardian obit: Monarch whose reign saw the spread of division, corruption and strife, and was saved only by ‘black gold’. The deceased left dozens of wives, tens of kids and ten-thousands of terrorists behind him.

The new king Salman, a fervent Wahabbi who has Alzheimer and is unlikely to rule for long, immediately launched an internal coup to further empower his branch of the tribal family:

Salman moved swiftly to undo the work of his half-brother. He decided not to change his crown prince Megren, who was picked by King Abdullah for him, but he may choose to deal with him later. However, he swiftly appointed another leading figure from the Sudairi clan. Mohammed Bin Nayef, the interior minister is to be his deputy crown prince. It is no secret that Abdullah wanted his son Meteb for that position, but now he is out.

More significantly, Salman, himself a Sudairi, attempted to secure the second generation by giving his 35- year old son Mohammed the powerful fiefdom of the defense ministry. The second post Mohammed got was arguably more important. He is now general secretary of the Royal Court. All these changes were announced before Abdullah was even buried.

There will likely be some resistance and strife within the Saudi ruling family about these changes. The smooth transfer of power today may turn out to be the start of rather chaotic developments.

No country deserves the troubles of a revolution more than Saudi Arabia does. Its combination of extreme archaic interpretation of religion and tons of oil money has proven to be dangerous for mankind. An uproar in Arabia could, in the short term, lead to even more repressive and backward religious regime. But such would at least stop the ass-licking and support "western" politicians offer to it.

Posted by b on January 23, 2015 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (29)

January 22, 2015

Ukraine: War In Kiev And Beyond?

Today the Ukrainian government finally admitted, three days after it happened, that it has lost its foothold at the Donetsk airport. Its position at the airport covered the artillery position the Ukrainian army has to the north-west of Donetsk. Those artillery units were shelling the federalist held city and the federalists attacked the airport to push them further away.

According to statistics provided to VICE News by the morgue, 157 casualties have been recorded in Donetsk since the beginning of January, with 119 of these occurring in the last two weeks.

It took quite a while but the federalist finally managed to capture the whole airport. Several counterattacks by the Ukrainian army were repelled and the counterattacking forces were destroyed.

Parts of the airport had been held for months by the "volunteer" right sector radicals that are now the "National Guard" of Ukraine. Their number three on the election list was captured by the federalists and their leader Dmytro Yarosh was wounded when he visited their airport position.

There is also some indecisive fighting further south near Mariupol and fighting in the north east near Lukhansk with the federalist making some slight advance. Still the general map has not changed much over the last months.

The Ukrainian army continues to mobilize and, with the help of some NATO members, is building up more forces. I doubt that whatever they come up with will have the motivation, training, equipment or leaders needed to be successful on the battlefield. Grandma's won't do. The soldiers on the other side have proven to be better in all aspects. Despite repeated claims form the Ukrainian government that 1,000, 2,000 or 9,000 Russian regular soldiers and hundreds of Russian tanks are fighting with the federalists none have been documented.

The Ukrainian army can not win a war against the federalist backed by Russia. The Ukrainian government is broke and will not get bailed out. Why is it still trying to wage war? My impression is that the U.S. is still pushing the Ukrainian government to continue its useless efforts to make any Europe-led ceasefire agreement with Russia null an void and to thereby keep the sanctions against Russia in place. Cold War 2.0 with proxy fighting in Ukraine is the U.S. plan to keep Russia from challenging its me-and-only-me-first global position.

The whole conflict seem to be based on more long-term plans:

American soldiers will deploy to Ukraine this spring to begin training four companies of the Ukrainian National Guard, the head of US Army Europe Lt. Gen Ben Hodges said during his first visit to Kiev on Wednesday.

The number of troops heading to the Yavoriv Training Area near the city of L'viv — which is about 40 miles from the Polish border — is still being determined, however.

Hmm. The Ukrainian National Guard mainly consists of the fascist units responsible for the Maidan fighting that led to the coup against the Ukrainian government. Lviv is the west Ukrainian capitol of the Ukrainian fascists. Why would the U.S. military train those units near Lviv when the regular Ukrainian army is also obviously in urgent need of training? Why train them in spring when the conflict, with some good will from both sides, could be over in a month or two?

Experience tells that whenever the U.S. announces official training will start then and there that unofficial training is already ongoing. I have zero doubt that some U.S. special forces, probably under the guise of "contractors", are already training semi-irregular Ukrainian units. As conventional warfare is unlike to help the Ukrainian government's cause those units may prepare for other means.

There are indeed signs that partisan warfare against the federalists is already happening. Today some mortars fired at civilian areas in Donetsk hit a bus and killed at least 13 people. Unlike regular artillery mortars are rather short ranged weapons. Those who fired them likely did so from inside the generally federalist held, but only lightly controlled areas. Also Alec Luhn, reporting for the Guardian from Donetsk, tweeted today:

Partisan war? Dnipro-1 battalion says pro-Ukraine partisans in Luhansk region blew up a train carrying coal to Russia http://nr2.com.ua/News/...

If what I suspect is happening, that Ukrainian government semi-regular units are waging a guerrilla campaign in federalist held regions, then the obvious response by the federalists will be the dispatch of similar units to Ukrainian government held areas. That means war in Kiev and beyond.

Posted by b on January 22, 2015 at 12:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (95)

January 21, 2015

SOTU: An Annual Monarchist Ritual To Acclaim U.S. Hypocrisy

From Obama's State of the Union remarks (via Micah Zenko):

... we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we have done relentlessly since I took office ... while making sure that other nations play by the rules ...

The above fragments were both followed by applause.

---

Adding:

How foreigners perceive such nutty speech:

Russia's foreign minister says the United States wants to dominate global affairs and expects all others to bow to its supremacy.

He is right. See above.

Speaking at Wednesday's news conference, Sergey Lavrov said that President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech reflected the U.S. aspirations to remain "the No. 1" power. He added that the United States will come to realize that such approach is unsustainable.

The reality that an uncooperative and unilateral U.S. can not achieve the aims it wants is slowly, slowly setting in. Currently Obama's foreign policy is blamed for the various U.S. foreign policy disasters (Yemen anyone? Ukraine?). But Obama's foreign policy is not really different from the one Bush and Carter followed and the next president will likely try the same foolish hypocritical paths.

The self-delusion of U.S. allmightiness has deep roots and it will take some near catastrophic events to rip it apart.

Posted by b on January 21, 2015 at 09:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (79)

January 20, 2015

Israel's Golan Attack Turns Heights Into An Active Resistance Zone

As response to the Israeli attack on the Iranian commander in Syria Iran and Hizbullah will open an active new front in Golan heights:

"The response will be firm and decisive.” This, in short, was the Iranian reaction to the Israeli attack in the Syrian province of Quneitra, which killed a senior commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG), among others. The Iranian reaction indicates the possibility of opening the Golan front, where work is underway to build the necessary infrastructure.
...
Islamic Shura Council head Hussein Sheikh al-Islam said that “the resistance will open the Golan front in response to the Zionist aggression, which was a grave miscalculation by this entity.”

“Without intelligence assistance from terrorist groups in Syria, the Zionist entity would not have managed to execute this operation,” the aim of which is “to please the extremist groups in the Zionist entity and serve electoral objectives.”

The terrorist groups Israel is cooperating with is mainly Jabhat al-Nusra the AlQaeda affiliate in Syria.

The Israeli hit on the high ranking Iranian and Hizbullah targets will have significant repercussions and Israel may have miscalculated the extend to which this will come true.

There are already feeble efforts by the Israel to avoid the consequences of its deed:

An Iranian general killed in an Israeli air strike in Syria was not its intended target and Israel believed it was attacking only low-ranking guerrillas, a senior security source said on Tuesday.

The remarks by the Israeli source, who declined to be identified because Israel has not officially confirmed it carried out the strike, appeared aimed at containing any escalation with Iran or the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla group.

"We did not target the general and, by the way, here is a well maintained bridge for sale."

In the 80s and 90s Israel tried to turn the south of Lebanon into a comfort zone for itself by supporting the rogue forces of the South Lebanese Army. Hizbullah was founded to counter that force and a few years later Israel and its mercenaries were thrown out of the country.

During the last two years Israel tried the same strategy on the Golan demarcation line with Syria organizing and supporting Free Syrian Army gangs and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists. Syria and Hizbullah had responded to this by fortifying position in the Golan and preparing defenses on the heights. Both had refrained from active attacks on that front.

But with the attack on the Iranian general and high Hizbullah commanders Israel has opened a new chapter and in reaction to that Hizbullah and Iran will turn the Golan heights into an open front of active combat against Israel. The game changed because Israel disregarded the established rules.

It will take time but the whole of Golan, just like south Lebanon before, will be an increasing unfriendly area for Israel and the cost to further hold on to it will over time become prohibitive.

Posted by b on January 20, 2015 at 10:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (121)

January 18, 2015

Netanyahoo Responds To Nasrallah Speech With Big Escalation

Update (Jan 19 2:00pm)

It turned out today that the highest rank killed and main target of the attack was not the Hizbullah special force commander in Syria and the other Hizbullah fighters but Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commander in Syria General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi. The general was new to the job and will certainly soon be replaced.

While some Jabhat al-Nusra media claim that Jabhat was responsible for the attack the UN observer mission on the Golan height says it observed drones from Israel above the area of the attack. It added:

"This incident is a violation of the 1974 Agreement on Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces."

Original post follows

Three days ago the leader of the Lebanese Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah, warned Israel against "stupid moves":

A key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Nasrallah said that Israeli strikes on Syria "target the whole of the resistance axis,” which includes Hezbollah, Damascus and Tehran.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah fighters in Syria are battling extremist groups in an attempt to thwart threats for Syria, Lebanon and the entire region.

Describing the fight in Syria as “existential,” he said the plot against the neighboring country targets the resistance and their intervention into Syria was in order to preserve the country as well as Lebanon.

"The repeated bombings that struck several targets in Syria are a major violation, and we consider that any strike against Syria is a strike against the whole of the resistance axis, not just against Syria," he told the Beirut-based Arab news television.

"The axis is capable of responding. This can happen any time," he warned.

Israel disregarded the warning. It today attacked a Hizbullah convoy on the Syrian side of the Golan heights and killed the Hizbullah commander in Syria as well as six other Hizbullah fighters. One of those killed today was Jihad Imad Mughniyeh the son of Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh killed by Israeli agents a few years ago. The attack was carried out by missiles released from a helicopter within Israeli borders.

Two points about the attack:

Israel is supporting Al-Qaeda in Syria, aka Jabhat al-Nusra, in the Syrian part of the Golan height. The attack on Hizbullah today must (also) be understood as direct Israeli support for Al-Qaeda.

How did Israel know where to hit? Either Hizbullah's communication security was lousy, or there is a(nother) spy in Hizbullah's ranks or this was pure luck. I do not believe that such a "success" is just pure luck. The missile attack points to exact knowledge of the position of the target which lets me believe that some opf those killed might have carried a known cell phone or some other electronic beacon.

Hizbullah reacted so far by immediately putting its forces at the Lebanese Israeli border on alarm while Israeli intensified its (illegal) overflights of Lebanese territory.

I do not doubt that Hizbullah will retaliate harshly for this attack. But it will do so on a timetable that fits its needs and capabilities. I therefore find an immediate response, though justified, not very likely. But I do expect an answer within the next two month before the general election in Israel.

Nasrallah's speech three days ago was relatively aggressive. Netanyahoo now challenged that by escalating the situation. He calculates that Hizbullah can not response effectively or not within a time frame that would endanger his election chances. That may well turn out to have been a huge mistake.

Posted by b on January 18, 2015 at 02:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (99)

January 17, 2015

Open Thread 2015-04

(Sorry, no post. A family emergency that requires some travel etc. keeps me busy.)

News & views ...

(..and pleaze behave ...)

Posted by b on January 17, 2015 at 01:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (218)

January 15, 2015

Open Thread 2015-03

News & views ...

Posted by b on January 15, 2015 at 02:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (113)

January 14, 2015

Liberté D´Expression?

Dieudonné arrested over Facebook post on Paris gunman

French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala has been arrested for being an “apologist for terrorism” after suggesting on Facebook that he sympathised with one of the Paris gunmen, a judicial source has said.

Prosecutors had opened the case against him on Monday after he wrote “Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly” – mixing the slogan “Je suis Charlie”, used in tribute to the journalists killed at magazine Charlie Hebdo, with a reference to gunman Amédy Coulibaly. Dieudonné was arrested on Wednesday.

One wonders what "apologist for terrorism" may additionally include. When Hollande delivers weapons to terrorists in Syria isn't he also an "apologist for terrorism"?

Defending the racism of Charlie Hebdo is seen as heroic but criticizing Zionist racism in Israel is not allowed?

France now deploys 10,000 soldiers and 5,000 police to protect "Jewish sites". Meanwhile 26 places of worship for Muslims have been attacked and 34 have been threatened.

Liberté and égalité are supposed to be center tenets of France. They are now completely out of whack.

Posted by b on January 14, 2015 at 12:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (84)

January 12, 2015

No. The Islamic State Did Not Hack CENTCOM - Updated - Cui Bono?

Updated below

BBC: US Centcom Twitter account 'hacked by Islamic State'

US Central Command's Twitter and YouTube accounts have been hacked by a group claiming to back Islamic State.

One message said: "American soldiers, we are coming, watch your back."

It was signed by Isis, another name for the Islamic State. Some internal military documents also appeared on the Centcom Twitter feed.

US Centcom said it was taking "appropriate measures". The Twitter account was later taken down so no tweets could be viewed.

The hack happened as President Barack Obama was preparing a major speech on cybersecurity.

Several Centcom Twitter accounts and its Youtube channels were compromised and the "hackers" posted some military papers which are unclassified and available on the internet. The accounts are now suspended.

These "hackers" called themselves Cyber Caliphate, are already known and have a Twitter account @cybercaliphate but they used the acronym ISIS in a pastebin post on the Centcom "hack" to attach themselves to the Islamic State:

Pentagon networks hacked

AMERICAN SOLDIERS,
WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS. #CyberCaliphate


In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the CyberCaliphate under the auspices of ISIS continues its CyberJihad. While the US and its satellites kill our brothers in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan we broke into your networks and personal devices and know everything about you.
You'll see no mercy infidels. ISIS is already here, we are in your PCs, in each military base. With Allah's permission we are in CENTCOM now.. ...

The Islamic State and its real followers never use the acronym ISIS for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In their mind the Islamic State is not confined to the borders of Iraq and Syria. It is universal and has no geographical limits. Any real follower of the Islamic State will know this.

The "hackers" also posted some photo depicting a view down the neckline of a voluptuous woman. Islamic State followers would not do such - at least not in any public representation. For them it is a sin to even view such a pic.

My conclusion is that these were some cyberpunks. Some media guy at Centcom was owned and revealed his password after some social fishing through an email. Or his iPhone was stolen and cracked. Or something similar. Some "hacker" had fun with that. A rather common and irrelevant incident. A fitting XKCD comic strip is here.

Or this "incident" was some military Information Operation to further Obama's attempts to introduce more extensive internet spying which he is likely to push for in next week's State of the Union speech.

It would fit to the false claim by the Obama administration that the Sony hack, likely done by former Sony employees, was somehow related to North Korea.

UPDATE (Jan 13 2:00am): See how well the "hack" works as an argument for Obama's new law which will indemnify private companies which hand over YOUR private data to the government.

A screenshot from the current Washington Post homepage:

Terror! Terror!! Terror!!! We have been hacked!!! Give us your data!

From that first piece:

President Obama plans to announce legislation Tuesday that would shield companies from lawsuits for sharing computer threat data with the government in an effort to prevent cyber­attacks.
...
The provision’s goal is to “enshrine in law liability protection for the private sector for them to share specific information — cyberthreat indicators — with the government,” the official said.

If this law passes, which currently looks likely, all data stored or passing through a private company will be available for the government to copy, to store forever and to sift through however it likes. This even when you never intended to make such data public.

Meanwhile the British government wants to legally ban all private and public encryption it can nor readily break:

Mr. Cameron, who has started to campaign ahead of a national election in Britain in May, said his government, if elected, would ban encrypted online communication tools that could potentially be used by terrorists if the country’s intelligence agencies were not given increased access. The reforms are part of new legislation that would force telecom operators and Internet services providers to store more data on people’s online activities, including social network messages.

Both proposals, Obama's and Cameron's, would be catastrophic for Internet freedom.

Posted by b on January 12, 2015 at 02:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (46)

January 11, 2015

Paris - A Photo-Op For the Hypocrites

Update: The New York Times is lying to its readers about the photo-op:

The world leaders — including President François Hollande of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain — joined the march in a solemn line. They moved slowly, clasping arms to show solidarity with the victims. The crowd roared in approval.
At various times, those in attendance burst into spontaneous applause and occasionally into “La Marseillaise,” the national anthem.

The NYT description is completely fake. As you can see below the crowd never had a chance to even see the "world leaders". They never joined the march. There was no crowd at the photo op to roar approval.

Original post follows

Many people marched in Paris to express solidarity with those killed in attacks there last week.

As often happens in big marches, a small, violent minority hijacked the event for their own twisted ends.

Even criminals who were allegedly uninvited, like Netanyahoo, took part in the photo-op. Actually the fake "front row" of the march was  rearranged, with the Palestinian dictator Abbas suddenly missing, to fit Natanyahoo's election campaign needs.

Here is one picture of the front row of hypocrisy with Abbas next to the German chancellor Merkel (and Sarkozy next to Netanyahoo).

Abbas was removed, (as was Sarkozy), and the queen of Jordan was put in his place.

But that was still not good enough for Netanyaahoo to use in his election campaign and its tweets so some unknown second row person was put next to Merkel in a shot for Netanyahoo to use.

This event truly brought everyone in the world together. In revulsion at these politicians abusing it to polish their image.

Posted by b on January 11, 2015 at 10:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (137)

The Stench Of Hypocrisy

Thousands of people take part in silent march in Paris in remembrance of the victims of last weeks terror attacks in France. The attacks, by a bunch of criminals, were depicted as an assault on "free speech".

Unfortunately a bunch of hypocrites, invited by the French president Hollande, insisted on walking at the front of the march and to devalue the intended purpose. Many of these "leaders" sawed and saw terror in their own and other countries. As one Charlie Hebdo cartoonist says:

'We vomit on all these people who suddenly say they are our friends"

David Wickham documented the "free speech" credentials of these so called "leaders" who now compel the participants of the march to follow in the stench of their hypocrisy.

The right response to the attacks comes from the brother of the killed police officers Ahmed Merabet:

“My brother was Muslim and he was killed by two terrorists, by two false Muslims,” he said. “Islam is a religion of peace and love. As far as my brother’s death is concerned it was a waste. He was very proud of the name Ahmed Merabet, proud to represent the police and of defending the values of the Republic – liberty, equality, fraternity.”

Malek reminded France that the country faced a battle against extremism, not against its Muslim citizens. “I address myself now to all the racists, Islamophobes and antisemites. One must not confuse extremists with Muslims. Mad people have neither colour or religion,” he said.

“I want to make another point: don’t tar everybody with the same brush, don’t burn mosques – or synagogues. You are attacking people. It won’t bring our dead back and it won’t appease the families.”

Posted by b on January 11, 2015 at 10:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (88)

January 10, 2015

Some Additional Bits On The Hebdo Attack

On the Hebdo attack go read "Unmournable Bodies" by Teju Cole who seems to somewhat agree with my take.

It seems that the attackers were underclass French boys who, out of not finding much sense in their lives, jumped on the first ideology that came along and promised them meaning. They were only tangentially, if at all, related to the various fundamentalist AQ entities in the Middle East.

The whole political outrage over "free speech" in this case is completely made up. There is no "free speech" in France or elsewhere in Europe or in the U.S. Most states have blasphemy and lèse-majesty laws. Additionally social laws are effectively in place against other speech issues. Just try to make a few public point about the racist colonizations project of some east European in west Asia and see the reaction. Hebdo Charles itself fired one of its writers for alleged anti-semitism. A court ruled the writer was unlawfully terminated without a sane reason.

My personal position is that there is not, and should not be, an absolute right to "free speech". "Free speech" is often abused to provide cover for sawing strife within groups and nations and between them. Societies are, in my view, right to keep the most vile stuff within their frames of reference off limits.

Some people think that all Muslims should somehow responsible for the three lunatics in Paris and should apologize. Here (audio) is a really good response to such nonsensical requests.

Posted by b on January 10, 2015 at 11:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (179)

January 08, 2015

Open Thread 2015-02

News & views ...

Posted by b on January 8, 2015 at 02:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (219)

January 07, 2015

Charlie Hebdo - The Chickens Come Home To Roost

Twelve people, including two police, were killed in France when unknown gunmen attacked the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo today.

Some forty people were killed in Saana, Yemen, today in a bomb attack on people who were hoping to enlist with the police. These forty people and the many more wounded in the attack will get much less headlines than those killed in France.

Videos (1, 2) from the attack in Paris show the attackers in black clothing and behaving as if they had at least some military training. They were armed with automatic weapons and, according to the police, with a rocket launcher. At least two attackers are still on the run. We do not yet know the motive of the attackers, but I consider the following more likely than a false flag attack.

In 2011 the magazine Charlie Hebdo was one of those that printed the Mohammed caricatures, a crude and insulting attempt to smear the prophet and all Muslim as terrorists. In 2012 the magazine continued the campaign depicting the prophet Mohammed as naked, attention seeking gnome.

Unlike U.S. "liberals" most of the world does not consider free speech as an absolute right. Indeed like screaming "fire" in a filled theater, insulting the believe of other people is likely to get you hurt in most parts of the world. To claim such insults should not matter is itself an insult in that it declares one culture, that of absolute free speech rights, to be superior to other values. It is indecent.

That the Charlie Hebdo satire was indecent and insulting does not justify the murderous attack, but explains the probable motivation of the attackers. It is deeply wrong to kill people for their speech. But it is also wrong to insult others for no good reasons, be it profit or "free speech" worship.

The attackers in Paris are believed to be militants who pretend to be true Muslims fighting for their believes. The state of France under its presidents Sarkozy and Hollande has empowered and supported such pretenders in their attacks on the people and governments of Libya and Syria. In Syria Jihadi fighters of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra are using U.S. supplied anti-tank missiles. A German air defense regiment is defending their areas of retreat in Turkey against Syrian government attacks. While it supports Jihadis in Syria France is now deploying an air craft carrier to the Persian Gulf to attack the Islamic State in Iraq. The last  point could also be the actual motive of today's attack.

The fundamentalists were cheered on by "western" politicians when they attacked civilians in Tripoli and Aleppo. When they attack in countries which cater to "western interests" or within "western" countries these attacks are seen as hostile and used to justify another lurch to the extreme right, to war and towards more totalitarian states.

Unless they push for saner, less aggressive policies the average people in the middle, no matter their believes, are the ones losing in this war.

Posted by b on January 7, 2015 at 08:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (283)

January 06, 2015

Wishing Back Ghaddafi

Libya is now split along tribal and religious lines with two governments claiming to rule the country. The war between them is also a proxy war between the Saudi and Qatari governments who finance the various warlords.

The economy of the richest African country before the "western" war against Libya is now in shambles and its bankruptcy in sight. The last airline connecting to Libya, Turkish Airlines, suspended all further flights.

While many "western" politicians were happy to take down Ghaddafi none of them are now willing to take responsibility for the consequences.

The plan seems to be to let the conflict "burn out" - that is to make enough Libyans kill each other until no one is left to fight. Those who then control the oil, under "western" supervision of course, will rule the country.

Was that the plan all along?

Posted by b on January 6, 2015 at 12:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (56)

January 04, 2015

Open Thread 2015-01

News & views ...

Posted by b on January 4, 2015 at 11:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (105)

Children, Extremist Ideas And The British Establishment - Updated

Update

The Independent is on the same story the Telegraph has on noticing the authorities of toddler terrorism indoctrination. The presentation of the story makes it clear what the concerns are about.

bigger

The caption to the picture reads:

Nursery school employees will have a duty to report young children who are at-risk of becoming terrorists under proposed new legislation

With nursery staff like those depicted the threat of terror toddlers may indeed come true. But can such staff be expected to report to authorities other than their Caliph?

Original post follows here

The British government has been taken over by lunacy reports the Telegraph:

Nursery school staff and registered childminders must report toddlers at risk of becoming terrorists, under counter-terrorism measures proposed by the Government.

The directive is contained in a 39-page consultation document issued by the Home Office in a bid to bolster its Prevent anti-terrorism plan.
...
The document accompanies the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, currently before parliament. It identifies nurseries and early years childcare providers, along with schools and universities, as having a duty “to prevent people being drawn into terrorism”.

The consultation paper adds: “Senior management and governors should make sure that staff have training that gives them the knowledge and confidence to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism and challenge extremist ideas which can be used to legitimise terrorism and are shared by terrorist groups.

“They should know where and how to refer children and young people for further help.”

"Refer to further help ..." What might such "help" include? Some hints to such "help" may be disguised in some other Telegraph headlines:

A central registration for unruly young children "terrorists" might come in handy when the British establishment is looking for new material for its seemingly favorite pastime.

One wonders who came up with this idea ...

Posted by b on January 4, 2015 at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (24)

January 02, 2015

Ukraine: "From the spirits that I called ..." - Part II

Published here on February 22 2014: Ukraine: "From the spirits that I called - Sir, deliver me!"

The opposition in the Ukraine and its paymasters in the U.S. and EU called up the spirits of the right, the fascist, to wage a coup against the elected president and to push their selfish objectives onto the Ukrainian public.

Now those spirits won't go away ...

Parts of the Ukraine will soon show signs of anarchy with those that protested and rioted without having any real aim moving towards criminal activities. The opposition, which is now empowered and will have to deliver results, will soon squabble and will again fall apart. The fascist forces, euphemistically called "nationalists" in "western" media, will win more power.

Those predictions have turned into reality and even those who arranged the coup against the legal government of Ukraine can no longer deny the dangers.

On Tuesday a member of the imperialists Atlantic Council wrote in the Washington Post about a "new threat" to Ukraine which is not Russia but are "independently operating warlords and armed groups"

[N]ow several of these units, especially those linked to oligarchs or the far right, are revealing a dark side. In recent months, they have threatened and kidnapped government officials, boasted that they will take power if Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko fails to defeat Russia, and they served as armed muscle in illegal attempts to take over businesses or seize local governments.

Yesterday thousand of fascists marched with torches (vid) in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities to remember the birth of the fascist mass murderer of Poles and Jews and Nazi collaborator Stephan Bandera. Those forces will not go away and they will drag Ukraine further to the right and further apart.

Goethe's sorcerer's apprentice marshaled the spirits to help clean the house. But he could not control them:

O, you ugly child of Hades!
The entire house will drown!
Everywhere I look, I see
water, water, running down.
Be you damned, old broom,
why won't you obey?
Be a stick once more,
please, I beg you, stay!

This spring and summer the fighting in east Ukraine will again flare up in earnest. The coup government in Kiev will likely falter and Ukrainian state will be declared bankrupt.

The Washington Post OpEd is the first glimpse of realization of these dangers. More will follow. It will be a rude awakening and after much gnashing of teeth the apprentices will call for help:

What a deluge! What a flood!
Lord and master, hear my call!
Ah, here comes the master!
I have need of Thee!
from the spirits that I called
Sir, deliver me!

As I wrote in the February piece:

The sorcerer's apprentices in Washington and Brussels will come to understand that they can not control the spirits they called upon. They will need to call the master to put the spirits they awoke back into their holes. The international number they will need to call starts with 007 495.

Anyone with a bit of knowledge about the social history of Ukraine could have predicted this. The Kremlin knew that this would happen and it warned of the dangers again and again.

It will be waiting for the call.

Posted by b on January 2, 2015 at 03:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (102)

 
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