Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 30, 2015

How U.S. Journalists Inflame Middle East Sectarianism - e.g. Liz Sly

Sectarianism in the Middle East is regularly inflamed by the Sunni Salafi/Wahhabi groups and countries in the Middle East. It is directed against all other strains of Islam as well as against all other religions.

But as the "western" governments and media favor the Saudi Arabian side and often denigrate the "resistance" side, be it Shia, Sunni or whatever else, they insist that it is the Shia side that is preaching sectarianism. One can often experience this with reports on speeches of Hizbullah leader Nasrallah who is always very careful to not ever use sectarian language. When Nasrallah condemns Takfiri terrorists like AlQaeda and the Islamic State as non-Muslim and calls them the greatest danger to Sunnis, Shia and Christians alike the "western" media like to report that he warns of Sunnis in general and is thus spreading sectarianism.

Many such reports come from "western" reporters who are stationed in Beirut, speak no Arabic and depend on the spokespersons and translators in the offices of the Saudi-Lebanese Sunni leader Hariri. For an ever growing collection of typical examples see the Angry Arab here and here.

The finding of non-existent sectarian language in "resistance" leaders' communications and the emphasizing of it has been internalized by "western" reporters. You can clearly see the process in the exemplary Twitter exchange copied below.

Liz Sly is the Middle East correspondent for the Washington Post in Beirut and does not speak Arabic. Elijah J. Magnier is Chief International Correspondent for the Kuwaiti TV station AL RAI. He speaks Arabic and has covered the war on Iraq and other wars on the ground for decades.

The issue at hand is a defense bill in front of the U.S. Congress which refers to Sunni militia, Kurds and other groups in Iraq as distinguished "countries" which are to be armed separately from the state of Iraq. "Divide and rule" writ large. Many Iraqi politicians including the Prime Minister have spoken out against it. The Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr warned of the consequences should the bill go through which he says would include an unleashing of his troops against U.S. interests.

Notice how Liz Sly insist on a sectarian aspect/intent in Sadr's proclamation even when there clearly is none. She keeps in insisting on it even after she gets pointed to an official denial of any sectarian intent by a Sadr spokesperson. The exchange:

Liz Sly 17h17 hours ago
Moqtada Sadr to the US: if you arm Iraq's Sunnis, we will fight Americans in Iraq. https://twitter.com/jihadicas/status/593512749235249152 …

Elijah J. Magnier 8h8 hours ago
@LizSly Moqtada didn't say that https://twitter.com/EjmAlrai/status/593324552437903360 …

Liz Sly ‏ 6h6 hours ago
@EjmAlrai Didn't mean literally fighting US troops, but to fight against US presence in Iraq. Presumably would hit embassy, personnel etc?

Elijah J. Magnier 6h6 hours ago
@LizSly U r right as Moqtada said he will fight USA in Iraq and abroad but didn't say if Sunni are armed.

Elijah J. Magnier ‏ 5h5 hours ago
@LizSly "We shall hit US interest in Iraq & abroad, as possible, ', if US approves supporting each religion independently",

Liz Sly ‏ 5h5 hours ago
@EjmAlrai Right, he means if Sunnis are armed directly by the US under that weird bill

Elijah J. Magnier 5h5 hours ago
@LizSly I spoke to S. Ali Seism who said it is not directed to Sunni but 2 all religions (incl Kurds) as there are more than Sunnis in Iraq.

Elijah J. Magnier ‏ 5h5 hours ago
@LizSly In fact the communique' doesn't say in any line the word "Sunni" but "all religions".

Liz Sly ‏ 5h5 hours ago
@EjmAlrai The bill is aimed at arming Sunnis and my tweet makes it clear Muqtada is against the US arming Sunnis, not against arming them

Elijah J. Magnier 5h5 hours ago
@LizSly Moqtada communique' clearly didn't mention Sunni: "Not arming religions": Fayli, Turkman, Sunni, Shia, Yazidi... Feel free.

Liz Sly ‏ 5h5 hours ago
@EjmAlrai Ok, but it's clear he's against a bill whose goal is to permit the US to directly arm Sunnis, not eg Fayli. As are many Iraqis.

The last paragraph of Sadr's statement says:

American should know that if it wants to exacerbate sectarian sentiment, we would continue to tread on the path of national unity. Let sectarianism fall out of existence! This is the very sectarianism that seeks to create [artificial] borders.

The U.S. Congress introduces a law that would exacerbate sectarianism in Iraq. Muqtada al-Sadr responses with a statement explicitly speaking out against sectarianism. Liz Sly insist that it is therefore Sadr who is playing a sectarian card.

Is this insistence by Liz Sly on sectarian "Shia leader Sadr is against Sunnis" justified by anything but sly, willful exaggeration, and even falsification, of what Sadr wrote? Who is the sectarian here?

Posted by b on April 30, 2015 at 11:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (54)

April 29, 2015

NYT Propagandizes False Ukrainian History

The New York Times claims that the Ukraine Separatists Rewrite History of 1930s Famine. A headline nearer to the historic truth would be "NYT Propagandizes False Ukrainian History" or "Ukraine Separatists Correct Rewritten History of 1930s Famine".

An excerpt from the piece says:

Traditionally, Ukrainian historians have characterized the famine as a genocide, the direct result of Stalin’s forced collectivization and the Soviet government’s requisitioning of grain for export abroad, leaving Ukraine short — and its borders sealed shut. Since Ukraine gained independence, that is what its students have been taught.

But that is not what students in southeastern Ukraine are learning this year. Instead, under orders from the newly installed separatist governments, they are getting the sanitized Russian version, in which the famine was an unavoidable tragedy that befell the entire Soviet Union.

West-Ukrainians have claimed that the famine caused by the Soviet government under Stalin was a unique genocide targeted against ethnic Ukrainians. They often use this claim to demonize Russians. But that claim is ahistoric and false.

The famine happened in all agricultural areas of the Soviet Union. The Volga region of Russia was just as much effected as the Ukraine region But the most hurt area was Kazakhstan:

Kazakhs were most severely affected by the Soviet famine in terms of percentage of people who died (approximately 38%). Around 1.5 million people died in Kazakhstan of whom 1.3 million where ethnic Kazakhs.

Even the Ukrainians who claim that the famine was a special anti-Ukrainian genocide concede that point. In a 2009 piece on the issue the NYT quoted a Ukrainian professor who propagandizes the genocide myth:

“If in other regions, people were hungry and died from famine, then here people were killed by hunger,” Professor Kulchytsky said. “That is the absolute difference.”

So being "killed by hunger" in Ukraine and "died from famine" in the Volga region and Kazakhstan is an "absolute difference"? The cause as well as the outcome seem to be the same to me. What else but some national genocide myth making could create an "absolute difference" in that.

The reasons for the famine are also multiple and not caused by a Stalin order or intent to "kill the Ukrainians":

[In 1927 Stalin warned] party congress delegates of an impending capitalist encirclement, he stressed that survival and development could only occur by pursuing the rapid development of heavy industry.
...
Shifting from Lenin's New Economic Policy or NEP, the first Five-Year Plan established central planning as the basis of economic decision-making, stressing rapid, heavy industrialization. It began the rapid process of transforming a largely agrarian nation consisting of peasants into an industrial superpower. In effect, the initial goals were laying the foundations for future exponential economic growth.
...
In November 1928 the Central Committee decided to implement forced collectivization of the peasant farmers. This marked the end of the NEP, which had allowed peasants to sell their surpluses on the open market. Grain requisitioning intensified and peasants were forced to give up their private plots of land and property, to work for collective farms, and to sell their produce to the state for a low price set by the state.

Given the goals of the first Five Year Plan, the state sought increased political control of agriculture, hoping to feed the rapidly growing urban areas and to export grain, a source of foreign currency needed to import technologies necessary for heavy industrialization.

The plan of rapid industrialization was largely successful. Iron and coal production exploded. New industries grew with newly imported modern machines. The agricultural development was more difficult. The forced collectivization of peasant farmers and the exceeding central demands to deliver their products to the cities and for export led to a sharp drop in agricultural productivity and output. The small land landowners boycotted the collectivization which was then brutally enforced. Only in the early 1940s did the agricultural production again reach the level of the early 1930s.

The separatist governments in east-Ukraine have this right. The famine was the heavy price paid for the fast industrialization of the Soviet Union in the 1930s. The main agricultural regions were hit hardest while areas with coal and iron ore and the cities developed the most.

But only the successful industrialization in the 1930s enabled the Soviet Union to withstand the German onslaught in the following decade. Without Stalin's foresight and brutal industrialization the Soviet Union would not have been able to later out-produce the well industrialized Germany in weapons and ammunition. It would have lost the war against the Nazis. Even as it won the war it cost the Soviet Union about five times the casualties of the 1930s famine.

But the fact that the Soviet Union did not lose that war against Nazi-Germany may be the real reason why today's Ukrainian "nationalists" are sad about the issue.

Posted by b on April 29, 2015 at 02:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (164)

April 28, 2015

In War On Syria, Other, U.S. Is "Balancing" To Keep Control

After the fall of Idleb, a Syrian governate capitol near to the border with Turkey, the anti-Syrian forces have continued their attack on Syrian government positions in the north-west. These forces are Jabhat al-Nusra allied with other Salafi-Jihadist brigades. During the last month the well coordinated attackers used at least several dozens of U.S. made TOW anti-tank missiles against Syrian army positions.

While some TOW missiles delivered by the U.S. to a CIA controlled anti-Syrian brigade were earlier seized by Jabhat al-Nusra the amount used by it in the Idleb campaign is far larger. Jabhat al-Nusra must now have a constant supply of such weapons. There was also a significant amount of Milan antitank weapons used though (vid) predominately in the south near the Jordan border. These are originally a German-French product. Both Milan and TOW are in the stocks of various Arab Persian Gulf countries.

The attackers also used encrypted radios which the Syrian army seem unable to decrypt in real time. The open radio traffic of 2-way-radios so far used by the foreign supported attackers was easy to follow and this had helped to defend army positions. To defend against an enemy which has secure communication is more difficult.

The CIA and U.S. special forces are involved in training and directing anti-Syrian forces and are part of attacker "control-rooms" in Turkey and Jordan. They certainly know down to each serial number who transferred these weapons to the Al-Qaeda entity Jabhat al-Nusra and others. Possible sources include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel and, most likely, the U.S. itself.

The Syrian army seems to be in difficulties. Its attacks these year all stalled and it lines are thin with the troops being overwhelmed wherever the attackers concentrate forces and firepower. The army has no shortage of weapons and ammunition but its manpower is down. Unfortunately it again left much material behind when it retreated from Idleb. I find it inexplicable that such stocks are not blown up or otherwise made unusable when a retreat necessitates to leave them behind.

The usual suspects are already gloating that "Assad is finished". They have said so every few months since at least 2012. Talk of immediate victory for either side is unjustified. The fighting in Syria and elsewhere will continue for a long time.

To find a response to the current setback the Syrian army chief is visiting Tehran to seek additional support:

Leading a military delegation, the Syrian army chief will have talks with his Iranian counterpart, Col. Hussain Dahqan, and other senior military officials to discuss ways of cooperation to face the threats of terrorism and other regional challenges, according to the report.

The visit comes a day after Syrian Interior Minister Mohammad al-Shaar and his Russian counterpart, Gen. Vladimir Kolokoltsev, signed in Moscow a cooperation agreement on countering terrorism.

The agreement provides a new legal springboard to further bolster bilateral ties, Kolokoltsev said.

We can expect new Russian weapon deliveries as well as more Iran trained and supported fighters on the Syrian battle field. But the real response to the new offense must come in the diplomatic space. Iran as well as Russia will have to come up with ideas to press the other countries to end their support for the Jihadists.

The U.N. invited all parties, for the first time including Iran, for new Syrian peace talk in Geneva. I do not expect any concrete outcome from these talks.

In the big picture we see one part of the Arab and Muslim world financing and providing material and political support to AlQaeda and other Wahhabi Jihadist groups. This while another part of the Arab and Muslim world is fighting against these. The winner so far are the Jihadis themselves and the anti-Arab forces in Israel and the United States.

In the Saudi war on Yemen AlQaeda in the Arab Peninsula is the winner and is now also, disguised as tribal fighters, receiving Saudi weapons. AlQaeda in Syria is, according to U.S. Vice President Biden, intensely supported by the Wahhabi Gulf states as are Islamist fighters in Libya and Iraq. The United States is now trying to be the arbitrator over those who finance AlQaeda and those fighting it. Its aim is to keep control over everyone involved by making sure that no side wins. Countries get destroyed that will need rebuilding, weapons and ammunition are bought and used up, oil prices stay reasonable high. What is not to like with that? The U.S. position will prolong all these conflicts until the inevitable blowback will push it to again change its policies.

Posted by b on April 28, 2015 at 01:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (52)

April 26, 2015

NSA Failure - THIS Hacking Of The White House Was Not Really Severe

While spending billions for spying on citizens the NSA obviously lacks the capacity to protect the White House and the State Department:

Some of President Obama’s email correspondence was swept up by Russian hackers last year in a breach of the White House’s unclassified computer system that was far more intrusive and worrisome than has been publicly acknowledged, according to senior American officials briefed on the investigation.

The hackers, who also got deeply into the State Department’s unclassified system, do not appear to have penetrated closely guarded servers that control the message traffic from Mr. Obama’s BlackBerry, which he or an aide carries constantly.

Much of that "unclassified" email still contains restricted information like official schedules and briefings. The hack certainly did some damage. The blaming of "Russian" hackers though is dubious. How did the investigators attribute this? And if they are sure why not make a public case of it? There are some hints in the reporting that the "Russian" angle is not that clear at all:

One of the curiosities of the White House and State Department attacks is that the administration, which recently has been looking to name and punish state and nonstate hackers in an effort to deter attacks, has refused to reveal its conclusions about who was responsible for this complex and artful intrusion into the government.
...
This month, after CNN reported that hackers had gained access to sensitive areas of the White House computer network, including sections that contained the president’s schedule, the White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, said the administration had not publicly named who was behind the hack because federal investigators had concluded that “it’s not in our best interests.”

Usually Russia and its president Putin get officially blamed in Washington for every evil in this world. Why not now? May there have been someone else involved? We probably can guess who from this part:

The hackers appear to have been evicted from the White House systems by the end of October. But they continued to plague the State Department, whose system is much more far-flung. The disruptions were so severe that during the Iranian nuclear negotiations in Vienna in November, officials needed to distribute personal email accounts, to one another and to some reporters, to maintain contact.

Official traffic was pushed off the official servers to completely unprotected and easy to surveil private accounts. This during the negotiations with Iran. Who could have had an interest in that? Were those "Russian" hackers speaking Hebrew? That would explain the spokesperson's claim that it was "not in our best interests" to reveal the source.

But again why isn't the NSA able to protect the unclassified email servers? Why would it take months to clean them up? Why is spying on others deemed more important than protecting ones own communication?

Think of network attacker as a needle lost on a dirty living room floor. What does the NSA do to find that needle? It goes off and searches the barn because "that's were the hay is."

There are of course also protected networks and systems but those may not be easy enough to use. Or they have also been hacked. There is a hint of that as the article ends with an ominously specific denial:

The White House, the State Department, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies put their most classified material into a system called Jwics, for Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System. That is where top-secret and “secret compartmentalized information” traverses within the government, to officials cleared for it — and it includes imagery, data and graphics. There is no evidence, senior officials said, that this hacking pierced it.

Hmm. "THIS hacking probably did not pierce that secret network. Why, if it has never been hacked, would the officials be so very specific in THIS claim? If THIS hack was not that severe which one was? What other cases of hacked government communication, by you know who, are covered up behind this claim?

Posted by b on April 26, 2015 at 05:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (27)

April 25, 2015

Open Thread 2015-19

News & views ...

Posted by b on April 25, 2015 at 02:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (146)

April 24, 2015

"Targeted" Drone Strikes Are Rather Random Murder

May 23 2013: No drone strikes without 'near certainty' of no civilian casualties: Obama

The president, in his most expansive public discussion on drones, defended their targeted killings as both effective and legal.

He acknowledged the civilian deaths that sometimes result, a consequence that has angered many of the countries where the US seeks to combat extremism, and said he grapples with that trade-off.

"For me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live," he said. Before any strike, he said, "there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured, the highest standard we can set."

April 23 2015: U.S. raid in Pakistan killed two hostages, Obama acknowledges

A U.S. drone strike targeting a compound frequented by al Qaida leaders accidentally killed two hostages, including one American, near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in January, the White House announced Thursday.
...
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced that two other Americans, both members of al Qaida, also had been killed in Pakistan in January.
...
Neither man had been targeted in the raids that killed them, U.S. officials said.

That "highest standard" for murder by drone is obviously less high that the CIA operators who killed and kill thousands of non-combatants through drone strikes on "suspect compounds," weddings and funerals.

Obama now apologizes because a somewhat "special" American got unintentionally killed in one strike. But out of eight U.S. citizens killed in drone strikes only one was ever the intended target. That's the "highest standard"? And why doesn't Obama apologize for the 4,000+ other civilians killed? Oh, those weren't Jews spying on Pakistan like the "aid worker" hostage killed in that strike? Why can't Obama admit that neither he nor his psychopathic CIA-director Brennan have any real idea who or what they are targeting when they order to press the kill-buttons?

In March Brennan fired the head of the CIA’s Counter­terrorism Center. We now know why. But the man was just a subaltern. The drone-killing policy is made by Brennan and signed off by Obama. They must be held responsible.

Unfortunately that is unlikely to happen. The appalling reason:

Despite the bad reviews overseas, drone strikes remain persistently popular with the American public, with about two-thirds expressing approval in polls. And despite the protests of a few liberal Democrats or libertarian Republicans, they have enjoyed unusual bipartisan support in Congress, where they are viewed as reducing the threat of terrorist attack and keeping American operators out of harm’s way.

Someone should probably start to drone-murder random people in the U.S. That might change the perspective.

Posted by b on April 24, 2015 at 03:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (61)

April 23, 2015

Yemen: Saudis To Arm "Popular Committees" (aka Al Qaeda)

On the 17th Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula took a city, a military base, an oil terminal and an airport in south Yemen.

Military officials and residents said al-Qaida fighters clashed briefly with members of one of Yemen's largest brigades outside Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt province, which the militants overran earlier this month. The militants then seized control of Riyan airport and moved to secure their hold on the city's main seaport, which is also an oil terminal.

The security officials, speaking from Sanaa on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the press, said the leaders of the brigade in charge of protecting the entire area fled.

Nasser Baqazouz, an activist in the city, said the troops guarding the airport put up little resistance to al-Qaida fighters.

Reading that I commented:

Now Saudis can fly in ammo and men

That was meant more as a joke but now turns out to be likely spot on.

The overrun brigade who's commander fled and who's soldiers did not fight AQ was the 27th Infantry brigade in Mukalla. Its supreme  commander and "sponsor" is Mohammed Ali Mohsen:

The commander of the Eastern Area is BG Mohammed Ali Mohsen. The Eastern Area includes the governorates of Hadramawt and al-Mahra.

Ali Mohsen earlier fled to Saudi Arabia. He is near to the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islah, which unlike other MB branches traditionally receives support from Saudi Arabia.

Calling from Saudi Arabi Ali Mohsen ordered his troops to put up no resistance to the takeover of the city and the airport by Al Qaeda.

To hide their traces a bit the Al Qaeda folks immediately renamed themselves:

Qaeda fighters have seized the airport, government buildings and a refinery around Al Mukalla, establishing themselves as the most powerful local force. In an effort to win popular support, they have begun calling themselves the Sons of Hadhramaut and have promised to quickly return control of the city to local civilian leaders. When they seized a major army base outside of the city on Friday, they allowed the soldiers inside to leave unharmed, according to a local tribal leader.

The Al Qaeda folks who captured the airport renamed themselves to get "popular support". My hunch is that the "Sons of Hadhramaut" are now a "popular committee."

[Saudi Ambassador to the U.S.] Adel Al-Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia is providing support and weapons to so-called “Popular Committees,” militia groups who have in recent years emerged in Yemen as a counterweight to extremist groups in the country. Jubeir said that if the Houthis do not join the political process, these groups will step up activity against them.

To the Saudis the Zeyda Shia and especially the Houthis are "extremist groups". Al Qaeda, especially in the form of "popular committees" like the "Sons of Hadhramaut", are friends and tools to be armed and used to Saudi advantage. As the Houthies will certainly not give up under Saudi pressure the Riyan Mukalla Airport seized by the "popular" "Sons of Hadhramaut" will soon be indeed very busy.

But the Saudis are again miscalculating if they believe that the Jihadist are a match for the war experienced Houthies and the Republican Guard troops under former president Saleh who are allied with them. Al Qaeda is not a capable ground force. It can be beaten in open fighting. Whether the Houthies could thereafter hold on to southern parts of country against the will of the local population is a different question.

Posted by b on April 23, 2015 at 01:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

April 21, 2015

What Is The Purpose Of This U.S. Fleet Concentration Next To Iran?

The Obama regime claims that it wants to hold the Saudis back from further killing in Yemen:

Top Obama administration officials have failed for several days to persuade Saudi Arabia’s government to limit the scope of its airstrikes on cities and towns in Yemen, a campaign that authorities said killed nearly 50 people Monday in Sana, the capital.
...
The White House would like Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab allies to curtail the airstrikes and narrow the objective to focus on protecting the Saudi border, according to a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in discussing internal deliberations.

The problem with this story is the acknowledged fact that the U.S. is still heavily supporting the Saudi attacks:

U.S. officials in Riyadh and Qatar are sharing intelligence from surveillance drones and spy satellites with officers from the Saudi-led coalition but are not approving individual targets, according to Pentagon officials.

“The air component is providing the Saudis intel on potential targets that include … civilian casualty mitigation procedures,” Lt. Col. Kristi Beckman, Air Force spokeswoman for U.S. Central Command, said Monday.

If the White House would really want to stop the Saudis it could simply stop supporting them. Without U.S. intelligence the Saudis would be blind. It could stop providing more bombs and the Saudis would eventually run out of ammunition.

The Obama regime is simply not serious about this. It does not care one bit about Yemenis or about the expansion of AlQaeda in the Arab Peninsula (which renamed itself into "Sons of Hadramout" to get more official Saudi support).

Meanwhile the U.S. is building up a fleet concentration in the Arab sea next to Yemen. Some 10 to 12 capital ships will soon be there. Several destroyers. Three helicopter carriers/landing ships with a battalion of Marines each, one air craft carrier and an unknown number of nuclear submarines. All this to prevent a non existing threat to international shipping lanes and to stop non-existing supply convoys from Iran to the Houthies. Claims by the White House that Iran supplies the Houthies are ludicrous propaganda. There is not much love between Houthis and Iran, Yemen is full of weapons anyway and there is no evidence that any supplies have ever been provided. Why then this propaganda and fleet concentration?

The administration has a problem. Sanction against Iran are coming to an end no matter how the nuclear talks with Iran will end. Iran has shown its willingness to resolve the issue. The U.S. is the party blocking it. If there is a pact signed in June sanctions will end. If there is no pact signed in June the U.S. will be blamed and the sanction regime will fall apart. The Russian decision to finally provide S-300 air defense to Iran was an explicit sign for that. The Chinese are currently heavily bribing Pakistan to get a land route to Iranian gas. The U.S. will soon no longer able to constrain Iran through an internationally supported "crippling sanctions" regime.

Before the U.S. attacked Iraq the sanction regime there was also falling apart. Without sanctions increased Iraqi oil production would have lowered the price of oil. The oil men, and the Bush administration had many of them, would have made much less money. The attack on Iraq prevented that oil dump.

Similar conditions apply to the Iran sanction regime. As soon as Iran can sell as much as it wants oil prices will go down even more. The major oil companies would suffer. The Saudis would lose market share. Is the Obama administration willing to go to war, or to at least create some "incident", to prevent that?

Why else is that fleet in the Arab sea? Pat Lang fears that some new Gulf of Tokin incident might unfold. Why would he think that?

Posted by b on April 21, 2015 at 02:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (50)

April 18, 2015

Open Thread 2015-18

News & views ...

Posted by b on April 18, 2015 at 12:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (218)

April 17, 2015

Ukraine: "Both Sides Touched" By NATO Related Murder Of The Other Side

The Washington Post's Michael Birnbaum invented a new funny way to equalized victims and perpetrators of serious crimes:

MOSCOW — A pro-Russian Ukrainian journalist was gunned down in Kiev on Thursday, authorities said, a day after a Ukrainian politician supporting Moscow was found dead.

The killing of Oles Buzyna, 45, raised fears of a new wave of back-and-forth violence in the streets of Ukraine after a string of unsolved deaths that has touched both sides of the conflict between Ukraine’s Western-allied government and pro-Moscow separatists.

Indeed the "unsolved deaths" "touched both sides" with eleven people on one side getting murdered while the other side covered up these murders as "suicides" and very likely also provided the killers.

Eight politicians of the Party of Region of former president Yanukovich, ousted in a U.S. inspired coup, were killed as were three journalists un-sympathetic to the now ruling coup government.

There is some curious connection between some of the recent killings and NATO. As RB at NiqNaq provides (recommended):

On Apr 14, a profile of Oles’ Buzina was added to https://psb4ukr.org/ site (where Ukrainian government encourages people to fink the authorities on the people suspected of separatism); on Apr 15, Oles’ Buzina was killed near his home with 4 shots. I (my correspondent – RB) looked up the Web address where they posted Buzina’s address, and found that it’s hosted on a NATO server.

The Niqnaq post provides details and screenshots demonstrating the connection to NATO. (A short take is also here.) I was myself researching the issue for MoA when I found that Niqnaq post and I can confirm the findings and add a bit.

Two names and personal data of persons recently assassinated in Ukraine were posted on a "nationalist" website shortly before those persons were killed. That website, psb4ukr.org (screenshot) auto-translated from Russian to English (screenshot), is headlined:

"Peacemaker"

RESEARCH CENTRE FEATURES OF CRIMES AGAINST UKRAINE'S NATIONAL SECURITY, PEACE, SECURITY AND HUMANITY international law
Information for law enforcement authorities and special services about pro-Russian terrorists, separatists, mercenaries, war criminals, and murderers.

Next to some news pieces the site carries a list for download with some 7,700 names of "saboteurs" and "terrorists".

On a first view the name "psb4ukr.org" is anonymously registered through the U.S. company Wild West Domains.

A "traceroute" command shows that Internet Protocol requests to the server "psb4ukr.org" end in a datacenter in Dallas, Texas at dallas-ipc.com and the IP number 208.115.243.222.

A "nslookup" command with the input "psb4ukr.org" confirms in its output the registered IP Number to be "208.115.243.222" (screenshot).

A reverse "nslookup" command with the input "208.115.243.222" provides the output "psb4ukr.nato.int". (screenshot).

 

"nato.int" is the Internet domain namespace registered and reserved for NATO. Why is a server for a website which is hunting for dissidents in Ukraine - some of whom have been killed - registered within the NATO Internet namespace?

After some additional research we find that the non-anonymous registration to "psb4ukr.org" is to one Vladimir Kolesnikov, 98 Lenin St, Velyka Oleksandrivka, Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine.

Further searching for Vladimir Kolesnikov we find that Mr. Kolesnikov has registered several other websites through Limestone Networks, Inc in Dallas, Texas.

Some of these website seem to be concerned with crypto payment, teletraining and unrelated stuff. Some others are related to the nasty "nationalist" side of the Ukraine conflict. Operativ.info asks for tip offs about "saboteurs" and "terrorists" and their operations while informnapalm.org is a general "nationalist" news collection.

There is no hint of any NATO-relation in these other sides. A reverse nslookup like the one that shows a relation like between "psb4ukr.org" and "psb4ukr.nato.int" does not deliver such results for the other website registered to Mr. Kolesnikov.

One possible explanation for the "psb4ukr.nato.int" lookup result might be that the website was originally build or tested within the NATO namespace and later transferred outside without cleaning up some of the original name references.

Posted by b on April 17, 2015 at 03:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (80)

April 16, 2015

The Richard Engel Kidnapping Fake - MoA Scooped MSM By 28 Month

The veil is lifting a bit over the slew of the "bad Assad" propaganda stories that built the case for the war on Syria. The New York Times reports today: NBC News Alters Account of Correspondent’s Kidnapping in Syria

NBC News on Wednesday revised its account of the 2012 kidnapping of its chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, saying it was likely that Mr. Engel and his reporting team had been abducted by a Sunni militant group, not forces affiliated with the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

Moon of Alabama questioned the original Richard Engel story at that time and found that the whole "kidnapping" and "rescue" was likely a completely staged event:

Professor As'ad AbuKhalil, the Angry Arab, has reason to not believe that story and has indications that these were not Assad loyalists but FSA insurgents playing the role of Assad loyalists for a fake media stunt.

There is now new evidence that this was indeed a fake event and that, whatever Richard Engel may believe, he and the people with him (which included one ever unnamed "British engineer" who is more likely some special operations guy) were not in the hands of Shabiha but in the hand of well known experienced video fakers.

We had earlier looked at the fake citizen journalist Khaled Abu Salah who created and distributed fake videos about "Assad atrocities" sponsored by the shady U.S. para-government organization Avaaz. He was, as we documented, involved in the Richard Engels stunt. This led us to ask:

How come that this known serial producer of fake videos is involved in a murky kidnapping case that looks like a propaganda set up for "western" media consumption?

Further:

  • Who smuggled Richard Engel into Syria? Was it Avaaz?
  • Did "Danny" and Khaled Abu Salah knew that he was coming?
  • Did they prepare the kidnapping and the liberation of Richard Engel?

Some of the answers may be found if Richard Engel explains how he came to meet Khaled Abu Salah for this interview. Engel should urgently answer that question.

Engel still does not come clean on this issue. His new account of the fake kidnapping only comes, as HuffPo writes,

.. after new information surfaced suggesting he may have been misled about the identities of his captors, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The New York Times had recently started a new investigation about the case and only that has led Engel to "revisit" the issue - that is to cover his old lies with new ones.

His bosses at NBC put Engel on air with sectarian talk even when it knew that his story was very likely wrong:

NBC executives were informed of Mr. Ajouj and Mr. Qassab’s possible involvement during and after Mr. Engels’s captivity, according to current and former NBC employees and others who helped search for Mr. Engel, including political activists and security professionals. Still, the network moved quickly to put Mr. Engel on the air with an account blaming Shiite captors and did not present the other possible version of events.

Two years ago it was clear to the Angry Arab and to me that the Engel account was very wrong from start to end. The Daily Beast then added some details pointing out that NBC "reported" a story it knew to be wrong:

[T]he sources say the gunmen who seized the crew may also have included rogue members of the rebel FSA–something top FSA commanders are keen to obscure. According to one source, “NBC’s security advisers were convinced that there was some FSA involvement in this and contacted wealthy Syrian-American donors of the rebel group, pointing out that Richard had been supportive of the uprising against Assad. They urged them to put pressure on the FSA. They really screwed down on them.” Top FSA commanders were alarmed and promised to help.

How is that now, more than two years later, "new information"?

The alleged "Shabiah" show of the "kidnapped" Engel was clearly fake and the "rescue" by the fake "moderate Sunni rebel" journalist pointed to a bigger plot. 

Engel's lies continue. He now admits that the dead "he had seen" were not seen by him at all.

In his Vanity Fair article, Mr. Engel described one of his captors lying dead. In his statement Wednesday, he acknowledged that he did not see bodies during the rescue.

Engel still speaks of dead kidnappers and a firefight during which he was "rescued". But the NYT found a witness that lets one seriously doubt this:

Thaer al-Sheib, another local man connected with the rebel movement who sought the NBC team, said that on the day of the release “we heard some random shots for less than a minute coming from the direction of the farm.” He said that Abu Ayman, the rebel commander credited with freeing the team, is related by marriage to Mr. Ajouj, and that he staged the rescue.

So Engel still does not say how he was really "rescued" and how he immediately thereafter came to sit down with the video and news faker Khaled Abu Saleh. In the video Khaled Abu Saleh gets lauded by Engel as part of the group that freed him. That group was Ahrar al Shams who are pure Bin Laden Jihadists. Did Engel, an Arabic speaker, not notice that? What by the way does Avaaz, with whom Khaled Abu Saleh cooperated, knew about his relation to Jihadists?

Neither has NBC's Richard Engel come clean on this nor have the NYT or HuffPo really dug out the back story.

That back story would reveal that "western" secret services, with the help of para-government organizations like Avaaz and some paid Syrian "revolutionaries", created false stories and videos about the "bad Assad regime". That back story would explain that "western" journalists from outlets like NBC, the NYT, including the writer of today's piece on NBC C.J.Chivers, and HuffPo willingly took part in and propagandized those scams even when they were known to be quite obvious lies.

Posted by b on April 16, 2015 at 07:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (31)

Why Does The World Wage War Against The People Of Yemen?

Nearly the whole world, seemingly paid off by Saudi money, is waging war against Yemen.

How else can one explain the silence that surrounds the Saudi bombing campaign that will lead to devastating starvation in Yemen and will turn that country into a second, bigger Gaza?

The sycophantic UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon kicked out the UN envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, because Benomar did not endorse the Saudi bombing campaign. He will be replaced with the Saudi choice Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmad from Mauritania:

Previously, in Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmad was “an embarrassment,” as multiple UN sources put it to Inner City Press. But, hey, whatever the Saudis want.

A UN Security Council resolution against the Yemeni people practically endorsed the Saudi blockade, bombing and starvation campaign by 14 to 0. Russia was criticized for only abstaining but not vetoing the resolution. I can see two reasons for the Russian vote. For one Russia may believe that the Saudi campaign will, in the end, severely hurt Saudi Arabia which would be to Russia's advantage. It may also have not vetoed because China, for whatever reason, endorsed the resolution. China and Russia prefer to veto together to avert to be singled out and blamed.

The Saudis have bombed not only refugee camps and food depots in Yemen but also the telecommunication networks, news stations and electricity networks. Sanaa has been without electricity for over 60 hours now. On Monday the soccer stadiums in Ibb, Aden, and Sanaa were bombed. Yesterday 16 gas stations, with long lines of cars waiting for fuel, were bombed in one case leaving at least 17 people dead and 50 wounded.

Between March 26 and April 11 the Saudis bombed Yemen over 1,200 times. According to an earlier account by a Yemeni army spokesperson 2,571 were killed of which 381 were children and 455 women. 1,200 official institution and 72 schools were destroyed. In the last 24 hours another 56 civilians were killed.

Fuel prices have increased by 600%, bread by at least 300%. Cooking gas is running out and without fuel or electricity water pumps can not run. People will starve but for lack of reporting abilities in the country no one will notice.

While the Saudis claim to bomb the Houthis but destroy Yemeni infrastructure Al Qaeda took full control over the harbor city al-Mukalla and slaughtered 15 Yemeni soldiers in Shabwa province in south Yemen. The Yemeni 2nd brigade, run by a Saudi stooge, gave up its weapons to AlQaeda. The Pakistanis were smart enough to reject the Saudi request for Pakistani foot soldiers to die in Yemen. The Saudi plan B is now to hire "local forces" to do their dirty bidding which means that the Saudis will, like in Syria, finance and support Al Qaeda's takeover of that country. Pakistan should send the Taliban to teach the Saudi how religious lunatics fight.

The U.S. is helping the Saudis not only with weapons and ammunition. At least 20 U.S. officers were send to a joint headquarter in Riyadh and are vetting the Saudi targeting lists.

Nobody in Washington or elsewhere believes that the Saudi campaign will solve anything in Yemen. But why then endorse and support it and the all the suffering it creates?

Posted by b on April 16, 2015 at 03:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (50)

April 15, 2015

Rumor: Saudis Finance Israeli Anti-Iran Campaign

A report by Robert Parry at Consortium News asserts that Saudi Arabia has paid several billion dollars to Israel to lobby in Washington for anti-Iranian positions:

Over the past several years, as both Saudi Arabia and Israel have identified Iran and the so-called “Shiite crescent” as their principal enemies, this once-unthinkable alliance has become possible – and the Saudis, as they are wont to do, may have thrown lots of money into the deal.

According to a source briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts, the Saudis have given Israel at least $16 billion over the past 2 ½ years, funneling the money through a third-country Arab state and into an Israeli “development” account in Europe to help finance infrastructure inside Israel.

The claim is thinly sourced but I regard it as possible. Parry was the first to report the Iran-Contra scandal and has good journalistic credentials. There are many common interests Saudi Arabia and Israel have in Lebanon and Syria as well as in their common position against Iran. Just think about Israel's support for the Saudi financed Jabhat al-Nusra in the Golan heights.

But the common interests between Saudi Arabia and Israel, documented in Parry's piece, are also entirely plausible without any money paid by Saudi Arabia.

A slush fund of that size, if it exists at all, can hardly be hidden for long. If there is some truth to the claim I expect more confirming leaks.

Until then let us file this under "rumor".

Posted by b on April 15, 2015 at 12:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

April 13, 2015

Repost: Günter Grass - What Has To Be Said

The German poet and writer Günter Grass died today. In his honer a repost from April 4 2012.

---

Today the German Süddeutsche Zeitung published a poem by Günter Grass about the conflict between Israel and Iran. The usual subjects immediately condemned the writer.

The following is my unauthorized (amateur) translation of the complete poem into English. I tried to stay as near as possible to the, sometimes seemingly awkward but certainly intended, original line breaks and punctuation.

What has to be said

Why am I silent, conceal too long,
what is obvious and in war games
has been trained, at whose end we as survivors
will at the most be footnotes.

It is the alleged right of first strike,
with which the Iranian people,
subjugated by a loudmouth
and steered towards organized elation,
could be snuffed out with,
because the building of a nuclear bomb
within its fiefdom is assumed.

But why do I prohibit myself,
to name that other country,
in which for years - though kept secret -
a growing capability exists
though out of control as
not open for audit?

The general concealment of this fact,
to which my silence subjugated,
feels for me like a burdoning lie
and a coercion, which promises punishment;
the verdict "antisemitism" is commonly used.

But now, because from my country,
which for its very own crimes,
which are incomparable,
is called up again and again and taken to task,
repeatedly and businesslike, though
by slippy lips declared as reparation,
another submarine to Israel
shall be delivered, whose specialty
consists of, steering all-annihilating warheads
whereto, the existence
of a single bomb is unproven,
but as a fear shall be conclusiveness,
I say, what has to be said.

But why my silence so far?
Because I though, my origin,
which has a not redeemable taint,
prohibited me, to strain,
with this fact as spoken truth,
the country Israel, to which I am
and want to stay beholden.

Why do I speak only now,
aged and with my last ink:
The nuclear power Israel endangers
an already fragile world peace?
Because it has to be said,
what already tomorrow could be too late;
also because we - as Germans burdened enough -
could become supplier for a crime,
which is foreseeable, which is why our complicity
could not be redeemed
with the usual subterfuges.

And admittedly: I no longer remain silent,
because I am disgusted with
the hypocrisy of the west; additionally there is hope
that many may liberate themselves from their silence,
to request the originator of the discernible danger
to abstain from force
and also insist,
that unhindered and permanent control
of the Israeli capability
and the Iranian nuclear installations
through an international authority
shall be allowed by both countries governments.

Only this way can all, the Israelis and the Palestinians,
even more, all people who live in the delusion occupied region
near by near as enemies and in the end even us,
be helped.

Posted by b on April 13, 2015 at 02:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (77)

Ukraine: Right Sector Breaks Ceasefire, Newsweek Smears Akhmetov

Serious fighting has again started in east Ukraine. The AP reports:

On Sunday alone, the OSCE recorded at least 1,166 explosions, caused mainly by artillery and mortar shell strikes in northern Donetsk as well as on its outskirts including the airport, now obliterated by fighting.

The OSCE also reported intense mortar fire outside the village of Shyrokyne, by the Azov Sea, but said its representatives were repeatedly barred from accessing the village on Sunday.

The AP report does not say who or what started these battles. It is dancing around the really important issue of who broke the ceasefire with this:

Col. Andriy Lishchynskyi, a Ukrainian representative for monitoring the cease-fire in the east, blamed the clashes on "a highly emotional state and personal animosity" between the fighters on both sides, according to the Interfax news agency.

Yeah, that is what a "Ukrainian representative" would probably say. What are the readers to assume from that?

The AP writers certainly read the relevant OSCE spot report. So why did they leave out this part?

Both the Ukrainian Armed Forces representative and the Russian Federation representative to the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) told the SMM that the Ukrainian side (assessed to be the Right Sector volunteer battalion) earlier had made an offensive push through the line of contact towards Zhabunki (“DPR”-controlled, 14km west-north-west of Donetsk), ...

The Nazis from the Right Sector Azov battalion attacked, broke the ceasefire and started the fighting.

But readers of just AP reports will not learn that.

There is a comparable issue with this smear piece by Newsweek. It is somewhat laudable in that it is the first one I see in the "western" media which reports on the issue of the eight political functionaries who were "suicided" in Ukraine by unknown perpetrators:

When Melnychuk’s body was found on 22 March, police initially told local journalists he had committed suicide. But it soon emerged that alarmed neighbours had called police on hearing of a late-night struggle. Pathologists found he had been badly beaten before the fall. Later the same day, Odessa prosecutors registered Melnychuk’s “suicide” as a murder, and arrested a former police officer they describe only as “citizen K”.

In reply to a legal request by Newsweek for information on investigations into the deaths of seven other former officials, all tied to Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, the General Prosecutor’s Office responded that all the information about all the deaths was a state secret – a staggering claim to make about a series of apparently unrelated civilian deaths they told the press were suicides.

After an intervention by the Presidential Administration, the General Prosecutor’s Office disclosed that four of the seven deaths are being investigated as murders, with another investigation as yet unclassified. The two remaining cases had been closed with no evidence of a crime. No other information was provided.

That is all well and correct so far. But then the Newsweek piece by Maxim tucker weirs off into Lala-land.

Tucker claims that the most likely man behind these death is the the oligarch Rinat Akhmetov. Akhmetov is the billionaire financial backer of the Party of the Regions who has many business interests in east Ukraine. Tucker asserts that Akhmetov had those people killed because they had helped him when he acquired, through bribes and violence, companies that the state privatized. They knew too much according to Tucker.

But these people were involved in many privatizations and not all of those went to Akhmetov. They were all also loyal to Akhmetov, long time servants of him and there was no sign that they were changing sides or worked against him. He simply had no reason to kill them.

Other oligarchs like Ihor Kolomoisky, the man behind the current prime minister Yatsenyuk and the financier behind the Azoz Nazis, have just as much interest to cover the tracks of their illegal acquisitions. They also saw the deceased party functionaries as the opposition to their rule. In any neutral investigation their ownerships of various companies and holdings would be just as much in question as Akhmetov's. As witnesses with knowledge of all wild privatization the killed people were much more likely to accuse them than they were to accuse Akhmetov. These oligarchs are, in my view, much more likely to have ordered the killings.

The Newsweek smear piece does not even mention that as a possibility. It simply asserts, with zero evidence, that Akhmetov must have been the man behind the murderers.

It seems to be a rule for "western" reporting on Ukraine (and elsewhere) that anything that may show a negative light on "our" puppets will be left out or, if that is no longer possible, be blamed on the other side.

Posted by b on April 13, 2015 at 01:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (59)

April 12, 2015

US AID And The Ebola Scare Scam - $1.4 Billion For Unused Treatment Centers

Last years Ebola scare was ineffectively answered by the U.S. government by showering $1.4 billion, without any significant results, on some military contractors.

Empty Ebola Clinics in Liberia Are Seen as Misstep in U.S. Relief Effort

[A]fter spending hundreds of millions of dollars and deploying nearly 3,000 troops to build Ebola treatment centers, the United States ended up creating facilities that have largely sat empty: Only 28 Ebola patients have been treated at the 11 treatment units built by the United States military, American officials now say.

Nine centers have never had a single Ebola patient.

This was predictable and predicted:

“I warned them, ‘The only thing you’ll show is an empty E.T.U.,’ ” [Dr. Hans Rosling, a Swedish public health expert who advised Liberia’s health ministry,] added. “ ‘Don’t do it.’ ”

US AID and the U.S. military did it anyway. They played dumb if only to spend all the allocated money:

“Our initial expectation, based on some of the models and some of the experiences and precedents from past Ebola outbreaks, was that the way you would beat this would be to get enough E.T.U. beds,” [Jeremy Konyndyk, who headed the Ebola response for the United States Agency for International Development, which was in charge of the American campaign] said.

Bullshit. Epidemics are not fought and beaten by treatment but by reducing infection rates. That is well known and what we wrote about the Ebola scare turned therefore out to be true:

The means of infection are well known, in general body fluids of all kinds from an infected person will carry the virus. That knowledge alone will help enough to decrease the number of newly infected people as more are warned and protect themselves when caring for an infected person. The epidemic will thereby die out within a few weeks.

That is exactly what happened:

The emphasis on constructing treatment centers — so widely championed last year — ended up having much less impact than the inexpensive, nimble measures taken by residents to halt the outbreak, many officials say.
...
“Communities taking responsibility for their own future — not waiting for us, not waiting for the government, not waiting for the international partners, but starting to organize themselves,” said Peter Graaff, the leader of the United Nations intervention in Liberia.

In the neighborhood where the outbreak in Monrovia started in June, a 200-volunteer task force formed in July, with residents buying chlorine and buckets to put in public places and donating two vehicles so volunteers could monitor the sick.

Lowering the infection rates by teaching precaution and isolating infected cases is the only reasonable way to stop any epidemic. No overdose of Vitamin C or other crazy measures some commentators here suggested would help.

If and how those who are already infected get treated is solely a question of human dignity. One can, as was done in old times, completely isolate infected persons and just let them die. Or one can build expensive treatment units and give them full care. Neither alternative will make any real difference in the number of newly infected patients and only that number decides about the total epidemic trend.

All this is well known and practiced and thereby enabled this blogger to predict the way this scare was going to go.

That the US AID people thought differently will have one of two reasons:

  • They are completely ignorant about epidemics
  • They were in on the scam to shuffle some $1.4 billion to some contractors

They should be fired in either case.

As the Ebola scare is now over no money will be allocated to keep those empty treatment centers up and going. The will get looted, turned to scrap or go down by other means. There will be no constant if small flow of money to the health systems of the affected countries which would help them to prepare for the next epidemic crisis. Only when that comes and a new scare can be raised will again money flow and again be scammed away from those who really need it.

Posted by b on April 12, 2015 at 10:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (24)

April 11, 2015

Open Thread 2015-17

News & views ...

Posted by b on April 11, 2015 at 02:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (107)

April 10, 2015

Reward NYT's David D. Kirkpatrick By No Longer Hitting Him

This editorializing is part of a news-piece in today's New York Times:

Mr. Kerry said he was seeking to reassure allies, including Saudi Arabia, that the United States could “do two things at the same time.” The United States could help push back against Iranian attempts to project its influence around the region, he argued, while at the same time negotiating a deal that would reward Tehran for providing guarantees that it was not building nuclear weapons.

Someone should ask the NYT writer, David D. Kirkpatrick, if no longer hitting him in the face would be a "reward" for him.

How can lifting "punishing sanction" for something Tehran has long provided be a "reward"?

Iran has a long time ago given guarantees to not build nuclear weapons. It signed and ratified the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1968. The "reward" for that was the unkept promise by the nuclear weapon states to get rid of their weapons.

One wonders why such editorializing structure like the use of "reward" here is allowed in a news piece. Then again: It is the New York Times and most "news" therein is now expected to be editorializing propaganda. If only the "journalist" writing that stuff would stop to pretend otherwise. We could then "reward" them by no longer hitting them.

Posted by b on April 10, 2015 at 02:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (28)

April 09, 2015

In Lack Of Self Awareness Kerry Accuses Iran Over War On Yemen

Is lack of self awareness a requirement for becoming U.S. Secretary of State?

To recap: The former Yemeni president was installed by Saudi Arabia and the United States. Depending on the narrative one chooses (all of these are somewhat true) his mandate expired, he resigned or was ousted in a coup by a locals tribal/religious group, the Houthi, in collusion with the former president Saleh. The president fled from the country to Saudi Arabia. No one in Yemen wants him back.

Next Saudi Arabia starts a war on Yemen and bombs military, government and economic targets killing soldiers as well as civilians and creating a massive hunger crisis. Yet another food distribution center was destroyed today. A ground attack is in planning and may commence soon.

Yemen is depend on food imports and also on imported hydrocarbon products like fuel, gasoline and for electricity. The ports are blocked and expected import transports with food and petrol get turned away. For lack of raw materials the last running refinery in Yemen just shut down. Lack of food and gasoline for water pumps and transport will predictably create mass starvation within the already destitute population.

The new ruling group in Yemen has no interest in creating trouble abroad. It is successfully fighting AlQaeda which tries to nab up parts of the country. Is that the reason for the Saudi attacks? The Houthis claim that Saudi air attacks on prisons are designed to free AlQaeda members.

The U.S. supports the illegal Saudi War on Yemen and the Saudi demand to return Hadi to power. When the president of Ukraine was driven out in a coup would that have justified bombing attacks by the Russian air-force against Kiev? Why shouldn't Russia act interfere in neighboring Ukraine when the U.S. is literally fueling the far-away war on Yemen?

There is little international support for the Houthi and while Iran has verbally supported them and called for a peaceful solution of the situation no evidence has been shown that that there is any material support coming from Tehran.

But all the facts above seem to be unavailable to the brain of Secretary of State Kerry. In an interview with PBS he, who is supporting the war on Yemen, is accusing Iran of what the Saudis do:

We’re well aware of the support that Iran has been giving to Yemen, and Iran needs to recognize that the United States is not going to stand by while the region is destabilized or while people engage in overt warfare across lines, international boundaries, in other countries.

So we’re very concerned about it. And we will – what we’ve made clear to our friends and allies is we can do two things at the same time. We have an ability to understand that an Iran with a nuclear weapon is a greater threat than an Iran without one; and at the same time, we have an ability to be able to stand up to interference that is inappropriate or against international law, or contrary to the region’s stability. and interests and those of our friends.

The U.S is the one that has for decades, including through several wars, destabilized the Middle East. It is the U.S. and the U.S. "ally" Saudi Arabia Who are engaging "in overt warfare across lines, international boundaries, in other countries". They are waging a  war on Yemen that is "inappropriate" and "against international law", and "contrary to the region’s stability".

It seems like Kerry looked into a mirror, lacked the self awareness to recognize himself and accused Iran of being all he saw.

Does he expect to be taken seriously?

Posted by b on April 9, 2015 at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (47)

April 08, 2015

Wars Are Always Short ... Until They Are Fought

November 15, 2002 - Rumsfeld: It Would Be A Short War

There will be no World War III starting with Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared Thursday, and rejected concerns that a war would be a quagmire.

"The idea that it's going to be a long, long, long battle of some kind I think is belied by the fact of what happened in 1990," he said on an Infinity Radio call-in program.

He said the U.S. military is stronger than it was during the Persian Gulf War, while Iraq's armed forces are weaker.

"Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that," he said. "It won't be a World War III."

April 8, 2015 - Tom Cotton: Bombing Iran Would Take “Several Days,” Be Nothing Like Iraq War

Sen. Tom Cotton says bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities would take several days and be nothing like Iraq War.
...
Cotton said any military action against Iran would not be like the Iraq War and would instead be similar to 1999’s Operation Desert Fox, a four-day bombing campaign against Iraq ordered by President Bill Clinton.
...
“It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox. Several days air and naval bombing against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior. ..."

Posted by b on April 8, 2015 at 11:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (39)

April 07, 2015

In Yemen Like Elsewhere The Saudi Sectarianism Creates Iran's Role

The Saudis continue their senseless war on Yemen. Next to bombing army troops and installation and thereby hindering it to go after AlQaeda they are systematically bombing electricity plants, water supplies and food centers:

Yemen Economic Corporation, one of Yemen’s largest food storage centres, was destroyed by three coalition missile strikes in Hodeidah last Tuesday, according to the Houthi-controlled defence ministry. The corporation had enough food for the entire country.

The government’s military food storage centre in Hodeidah was also targeted and destroyed on Tuesday, according to the defence ministry.

Also in Hodeidah, country’s second largest dairy plant was hit by five Saudi missiles on Wednesday, killing at least 29 people, mostly employees, and injuring dozens of others.

Unsurprisingly even those Yemenis who do not support the Zaydi Houthi rebellion are against the Saudi attacks. They will take revenge.

The Saudis continue to get favorable press coverage in the "western" media. No one seems to speak out against their war of aggression. Obama, who ordered the U.S. military to support the Saudi campaign, is only concerned with selling more weapons to them.

The Saudis want to invade Yemen but they need foot soldiers to do the bleeding. As their own people will no appreciate Saudi casualties they asked the Pakistani government to send them three divisions of cannon fodder. They specified that those division are to be purely Sunni. The Pakistani army, in a fight with Saudi supported radical Sunnis in its own country, was not amused. Some 30% of the army personal is not Sunni and the Pakistanis certainly want to keep sectarianism out of its rows. The conflict is Yemen is not about sects or religion but the Saudis, and most "western" media, do their best to turn it into one.

The Saudis have given Pakistan several "gifts" of billions of dollars and the current prime minister Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is a Saudi protege. But all parties in the parliament are against sending their troops to Yemen and Nawaz Sharif is therefore struggling to do his sponsor's bidding:

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan is “not in a hurry” to decide whether to join the Saudi-led coalition against rebels in Yemen as Parliament resumed discussion on the issue.

The premier addressed a joint session of the Parliament a day after Defence Minister Khawaja Asif revealed Saudi Arabia wanted Pakistani warplanes, warships and soldiers. Not a single lawmaker has spoken in favour of sending troops.
...
The premier has repeatedly said he will defend any threat to Saudi Arabia's “territorial integrity” without defining what threat that could be, or what action he would take.

Pakistan, as well as Turkey and Iran, wants to stop the war before it gets out of hands. On Friday the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, in Ankara.

That meeting is being followed by a flurry of diplomatic get-togethers: a visit to Ankara Monday for consultations by the Saudi deputy crown prince and interior minister, Mohammed bin Nayef; a visit by Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to Tehran on Tuesday, where he’ll meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; and a visit Wednesday by Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, to Islamabad. Later in the week, the Turkish foreign minister is expected in Islamabad.

The Saudis, Turks and Pakistanis want Iran involved because they believe that Tehran has control over the Houthis. I very much doubt that. Besides some minor money donations no serious material help has come from the Iranian site. The religious connections between the 12er Shia Persians and the 5er Shia Zaydis are less than those between the Zayhdis and mainstream Sunnis.

Iran did not instigate the Houthi revolt which originally started over lower fuel subsidies. It did not instigate the Saudis to bomb Yemen. But now everyone seems to want an Iranian role in a political process to end the war. While the Saudis criticize a greater role of Iran in the Middle East they themselves create the chaos that enlarges Tehran's influence.

The Saudi position reflects in the anti-Shia position of "western" media. Over the last days there were many "concerns" and hearsay reports about Shia paramilitaries looting Tikrit after liberating it from the Islamic State. It now turns out that Sunni tribes opposed to the Islamic State did the looting and that those effected were from Sunni tribes supporting the Islamic State.

U.S. media obviously believe in the immaculate conception of the current sectarian Middle East strife. It can have nothing to do with decades of U.S. wars in the Middle East or the instigation of fervent radical Saudi/Wahhabi believes. No. When in doubt, just blame Iran and who ever seems to have Iranian support. Will that ever change?

Posted by b on April 7, 2015 at 01:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (32)

April 05, 2015

Easter Walk

Part of my personal Easter ritual is reading out loud Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, Part I

The Easter Walk 

Faust. Spring's warm look has unfettered the fountains,
Brooks go tinkling with silvery feet;
Hope's bright blossoms the valley greet;
Weakly and sickly up the rough mountains
Pale old Winter has made his retreat.
Thence he launches, in sheer despite,
Sleet and hail in impotent showers,
O'er the green lawn as he takes his flight;
But the sun will suffer no white,
Everywhere waking the formative powers,
Living colors he yearns to spread;
Yet, as he finds it too early for flowers,
Gayly dressed people he takes instead.
Look from this height whereon we find us
Back to the town we have left behind us,
Where from the dark and narrow door
Forth a motley multitude pour.
They sun themselves gladly and all are gay,
They celebrate Christ's resurrection to-day.
For have not they themselves arisen?
From smoky huts and hovels and stables,
From labor's bonds and traffic's prison,
From the confinement of roofs and gables,
From many a cramping street and alley,
From churches full of the old world's night,
All have come out to the day's broad light.
See, only see! how the masses sally
Streaming and swarming through gardens and fields
How the broad stream that bathes the valley
Is everywhere cut with pleasure boats' keels,
And that last skiff, so heavily laden,
Almost to sinking, puts off in the stream;
Ribbons and jewels of youngster and maiden
From the far paths of the mountain gleam.
How it hums o'er the fields and clangs from the steeple!
This is the real heaven of the people,
Both great and little are merry and gay,
I am a man, too, I can be, to-day.

As usual, some people loathe such joy

Wagner. With you, Sir Doctor, to go out walking
Is at all times honor and gain enough;
But to trust myself here alone would be shocking,
For I am a foe to all that is rough.
Fiddling and bowling and screams and laughter
To me are the hatefullest noises on earth;
They yell as if Satan himself were after,
And call it music and call it mirth.

Translation by Charles T. Brooks

Posted by b on April 5, 2015 at 07:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (39)

April 03, 2015

Thoughts On That Maybe-Deal About Iran's Nuclear Achievements

Some preliminary deal has been agreed upon in Geneva that will restrict Iran's civil nuclear research and production program in exchange for lifting sanctions.

The deal is unfinished. The devil is in the details and those have yet to be agreed upon. The deal will fail when on June 30 those agreements will turn out to be unachievable.

There are many distortions and lies in the "western" reporting on the issue. Facts that are left out include:

  • The whole crisis over a "nuclear Iran" is manufactured based on lies from Israeli and U.S. intelligence services. The target of the U.S. and Israeli operations was never a "nuclear Iran" but an Iranian Islamic Republic that insists on independent internal and foreign policies.
  • Iranian leaders have declared that any weapons of mass destruction contradict the philosophical and religious base of the Islamic State of Iran. They have insisted on this and did not retaliate even when their cities came under chemical attacks during the Iraq-Iran war.
  • All U.S. intelligence services agree that Iran does not have any military nuclear program. There is nothing to fear from a pure civil nuclear program in Iran.
  • All sanctions on Iran are illegal in the very first place. They have no basis in facts or law.

There is now a very disturbing tendency in U.S. commentary, following Obama's lead, to say that the (unfinished) deal should be taken because it the only alternative is war.

But:

  • Who would start and wage such a war?
  • On what legal basis?
  • For what purpose given that Iran clearly has no military nuclear program?

Such stupid alternative "deal or war" as argument for a deal is dangerous because the deal can still fail and the hawks will then argue that "even the lubral commentators said 'deal or war' so now it must be war."

Indeed, given Obama's very aggressive foreign policy thus far I can not exclude that war on Iran is his real aim and only hidden behind very public but sham negotiations to make a public case for it.

Posted by b on April 3, 2015 at 04:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (152)

April 01, 2015

Why Wage War On Yemen?

There is no sensible reason to wage war on Yemen.

Yemen is dirt poor. More than half of its 26 million people depend on food aid. Yemen has to import 90% of the wheat and 100% of the rice it consumes. That little water that is available for agriculture is used up for growing qat, a mild stimulant that everyone seems to be using. Growing qat is more profitable than growing wheat.

Yemen produced some oil and gas and this was the main income of the state. But with falling oil prices and increased conflicts the income was less than was already needed and has now come down to zero. Another important source of income are remittances by people working outside the country, often in Saudi Arabia.

Some 40% of the population, mostly the northern mountain tribes are Zaidi 5er Shia  who in their believes, rites and laws are nearer to some Sunni interpretations of Islam than to the 12er Shia's versions in Iran and Iraq.

The other 60% of Yemenis are Sunnis of various Sufi tendencies. There was and is no real history of sectarian strife within the Yemeni society. In the current conflict the Zaidi Houthi rebels are fighting next to some units of the Yemeni army with mostly Sunni soldiers. The Houthi are a Zaidi revival movement which pushes for the historic leading role of the Zaidis in the country.

Over the last decades Saudi Arabia sponsored Salafi schools and preachers in Yemen. These follow the Wahhabi stream prevalent in Saudi Arabia and see the Zaidi as nonbelievers and the Sufi stream as unislamic. One Salafi school with 8,000 followers was situated in Dammaj, right in the middle of the Zaidi province Saada, has been central to the current inner Yemeni conflict.

The Houthi have been fighting against the central government since 2004. After the former president Saleh was ousted in 2011 during the Arab Spring a sham election was held to put the former vice president Hadi into the top job and a process of creating a new constitution and a sham democracy was initiated. The task was left to the Gulf Clown Council under the leadership of Saudi Arabia and some UN bureaucrats who had no real knowledge of Yemen. The Houthi were excluded from the process which of course failed.

Eventually the Houthi, with the help of some army units, took over the capital Sana and pressured president Hadi to create an inclusive technocratic government to solve some of the country's most urgent problems. Over several month a hassle ensued and in the end Hadi fled to South Yemen and eventually to Saudi Arabia. The Houthi, allied with some military units under the command of the former president Saleh started to take over the country.

The Saudis and their U.S. minders want Yemen to depend on them and dislike any real Yemeni independence. They are, like the "west", a neo-colonial state while the Houthi are, like Iran or China, a post colonial entity:

This is not just a regional fight – it is a global one with ramifications that go well beyond the Middle East. The region is quite simply the theatre where it is coming to a head. And Yemen, Syria and Iraq are merely the tinderboxes that may or may not set off the conflagration.

"The battle, at its very essence, in its lowest common denominator, is a war between a colonial past and a post-colonial future."

For the sake of clarity, let’s call these two axes the Neo-Colonial Axis and the Post-Colonial Axis. The former seeks to maintain the status quo of the past century; the latter strives to shrug off old orders and carve out new, independent directions.

The Saudis, their paid mercenaries and the U.S. launched a war against Yemen. Despite other claims and delusions the Saudis are not acting alone. A common headquarter with the U.S. was set up and the U.S. is creating the intelligence for the bombing target lists. This is very much a U.S. war of aggression. The acclaimed aims of the war, "restoring democracy" where there was none and other nonsense, do not make any sense. Essentially they ask for the Houthi to dissolve, the Zaidi and everyone else to roll over and for the creation of a Wahhabi entity under Saudi control:

Despite Saudi or even US assertions to the contrary, Operation Decisive Storm has nothing to do with supporting the legitimacy of a political process in Yemen. Its goal is instead to maintain the continuity of authoritarian governance in the region by actively repressing the forces that threaten to undo the status quo. That this coalition has indiscriminately lumped together ISIS, Iran and the popular democratic movements of the Arab uprisings of 2011 should indicate both its broader strategic goals and, equally, the dangers to positive political and social change it represents.

The Saudis and their allies, including the U.S., are bombing the shit out of Yemen's already poor infrastructure. They are blocking the harbors and Saudi Arabia is also blocking all money transfers. Food will soon run out. The bombs have hit civilian refugee camps, food factories, a diary and electric, water and communication infrastructure. Yemeni towns on the border with Saudi Arabia are under artillery fire. Many civilians get killed and wounded. The weapons the Yemeni army will need to eventually fight al-Qaeda are being destroyed.

Haykal Bafana
As the Saudi war on #Yemen enters its 2nd week, communications is getting worse by the day : internet, international calls severely affected

Hussain Albukhaiti
Dairy factory,Sadda gas stations&water company,Sanaa power station,Lahj cement factory,ports&airports.. those r the Saudi/US"houthis"targets

@b9AcE
It's by now almost undeniable that KSA's #YemenInvasion has as a primary goal to degrade #Yemen infrastructure/economy to ensure dependence.

Haykal Bafana
Despite a rich target environment, hundreds of Saudi airstrikes have not killed a single Al Qaeda militant in #Yemen. Well done, Salman.

The International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders both say that the Saudis are preventing the arrival of any help.

This is essentially the same strategy Israel uses against Gaza, only on a ten times bigger scale.

Salman is the new king of Saudi Arabia. He has Alzheimer but is a fervent Wahhabi. Unlike the former King Abdullah King Salman is willing to use the Muslim Brotherhood, in Yemen under the name Islah, as a instrument against his enemies. This creates some unease, especially with Egypt, in his anti-Yemen coalition.

The king's son Muhammad is only some 30 years old and has no military or political experience. Despite that he was made Defense Minister and is leading the war. His plan seems to be to install some Saudi created new government in Yemen. A conference is to be held in Riyadh but neither the Houthi leader nor the former president Saleh, together the current and effectively ruling strongmen in Yemen, will be invited.

No war was ever won through air campaigns and the Saudis will not get what they want through bombing. Despite the bombing campaign the Houthis and their army allies are taking the southern port city of Aden. A ground campaign against them would be very bloody and likely end with a defeat for the invaders as even anti-Houthi Yemenis turn against the Saudi attackers.

Meanwhile the Yemeni state is falling further apart and the war will lead to more ungoverned space al-Qaeda and the Islamic State will be able to take over.

The inner conflict in Yemen is not sectarian. The Houthi are not Iranian puppies. Whoever rules in dirt poor Yemen can not endanger the ultra rich Saudi state. Why do the Saudis believe that this war makes sense for them? Why do the Obama administration and the hawks in congress think that this whole campaign is a good idea? Why do they support it?

Posted by b on April 1, 2015 at 12:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (98)

U.S. Trained Fascists To Storm Kiev

US forces to hold exercises in Ukraine

The United States plans to send soldiers to Ukraine in April for training exercises with units of the country's national guard.

Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a Facebook post on Sunday that the units to be trained include the Azov Battalion, ...
...
Avakov said the training will begin April 20 at a base in western Ukraine near the Polish border and would involve about 290 American paratroopers and some 900 Ukrainian guardsmen.

Volunteer Ukrainian unit includes Nazis

Though the 900-member Azov Brigade adds needed manpower to repulse the rebels, members who say they are Nazis are sparking controversy, and complaints of abuses against civilians have turned some residents against them.

A drill sergeant who would identify himself only as Alex wore a patch depicting Thor's Hammer, an ancient Norse symbol appropriated by neo-Nazis, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

In an interview with USA TODAY, he admitted he is a Nazi and said with a laugh that no more than half his comrades are fellow Nazis. He said he supports strong leadership for Ukraine, like Germany during World War II, ...

The U.S. military will train east European Nazis to fight east-Ukrainian "Russians". One wonder how well that will end. The last armies trained by the U.S. military were the Georgian, Afghan and Iraqi one. All turned out to be major failures in combat. All were prone to abuse of civilians, prisoners and other crimes.

The training will start on April 20. That is Hitler's birthday celebrated by Nazi groups like Azov. The decision to train fascist Ukrainian national guard troops instead of the Ukrainian military smells like a White House interference. Who else would up with such a childish idea of needling Russia?

Then again ... At least those Azov folks may in the end hurt the right people:

He vowed that when the war ends, his comrades will march on the capital, Kiev, to oust a government they consider corrupt.

Posted by b on April 1, 2015 at 09:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (89)

 
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