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December 12, 2017

U.S. Surrenders On Syria - Resistance Turns Eyes On Israel

This New Yorker piece is notable for its arrogant headline, and several false assertions. Those may be necessary to divert from its real message - the U.S. surrender to the realities of Syria: Trump to Let Assad Stay Until 2021, as Putin Declares Victory in Syria

[T]he Trump Administration is now prepared to accept President Bashar al-Assad’s continued rule until Syria’s next scheduled Presidential election, in 2021, according to U.S. and European officials. The decision reverses repeated U.S. statements that Assad must step down as part of a peace process.
...
The Trump Administration says it still wants a political process that holds the prospect of Assad’s departure. But it has concluded that it may take until 2021, when the next election is scheduled, to pull it off.
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U.S. officials worry that Assad could win the 2021 Syrian election, one way or the other, and remain in power for years to come.

The U.S. "lets Assad stay" because there is simply nothing else it can do without waging a large scale war. It has tried everything else - and lost. In 2012 it attempted to assassinate Assad, but he wasn't at the security meeting that the CIA blew up. It send 100,000 Takfiri fighters from all over the world to Syria and shipped in ten-thousands of tons of weapons and ammunition. The global anti-Syrian propaganda campaign in favor of the Takfiris was unprecedented. It tried to build a political opposition and sponsored it with hundreds of millions. It lastly invaded the country and tried to split it by force. It failed on all fronts.

The U.S. decision reflects the Administration’s limited options, the military reality on the ground, and the success of Syria’s Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah allies in propping up the beleaguered Assad regime.
...
The Syrian opposition groups backed by the United States have been ineffectual. They have squabbled among themselves and split into factions.
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Diplomatically, Washington has been marginalized by the powerful troika of Russia, Iran, and Turkey, which now dominates the peace process.

In 2013 the author of the piece, Robin Wright, presented the Israeli dream of a split up Middle East.


bigger

It was a remake of the "Blood Borders" map peddled in 2006 by the neoconservatives Col. Ralph Peters. That gain was an updated version of a map of a "New Middle East" by Bernhard Lewis published in Foreign Affairs. Those maps went into the trash-bin when the U.S. had to leave Iraq. Wrigth's cartographic expression of imperial arrogance will end there too.

Wright is heavily wired in Washington. She is part of the *borg* and held/holds positions at the U.S. Institute of Peace (which plans wars), the Wilson Center, Brookings and Carnegie Endowment. That she has now given up on her ludicrous map likely reflects the leading opinions within those institutions.

One wonders if the military junta in the White House is on board with this. It continues to dream of keeping Syria and Iraq under its thumb:

Col. John Thomas, spokesman for the US Central Command (CENTCOM), said that the international coalition forces would remain in Syria to support the operations of the Arab-Kurdish “Syrian Democratic Forces” until the conclusion of negotiations on a political solution in Geneva.

He added that the US forces would continue to fight terrorist organizations close to “al-Qaeda” in Syria, including al-Nusra Front, “regardless of ISIS presence.”

Dream on.

Yesterday Putin visited Syria. He declared victory and announced that part of the Russian troops in Syria would return home. He made sure that everyone, the U.S., the Turks, the Saudis and the Israelis, understood that the troops would be back in no-time if they try to reignite the war:

"If terrorists again raise head, we will deliver such strikes on them that they haven’t seen so far," Putin told the Russian military.

Another member of the Syrian alliance, the Lebanese party Hizbullah, is now refocusing on Israel. Trump's hail-Mary pass of illegally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital came just in time to give new impetus to the resistance:

Mr Nasrallah called on the “resistance axis” — a reference to Hizbollah and its Syrian and Iranian allies and patrons — to “devote all its power and time to the Palestinians. I call on all the resistance factions in the region to unite and put one common strategy and practical plan to face this threat,” he said.

It was Israel that was behind (pdf) the campaign to dismantle Syria and Iraq. It utterly failed and the revenge will be harsh. Hizbullah is better armed and trained than ever. Battle experienced Iraqi and Iranian groups stand ready. The Syrian army is much better trained and equipped than before the war. The Iraqi resistance leader Qais Al Khazali recently visited south-Lebanon and took a look over the border into Israel. He was surveying the new battlefield.

Israel's great new alliance with Saudi Arabia has not helped its position. The Salman tyrant and his son are in an insecure position and their great relations with Trump have tanked, allegedly over the issue of Jerusalem.

The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahoo is under pressure at home. The corruption accusation accumulate and his time in office is now limited.

Who will replace him? What is the new plan the Zionists will come up with to react to the changed situation?

Posted by b on December 12, 2017 at 01:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (102)

Open Thread 2017-46

Yesterday an excavator disrupted several building connections here. Repairs are ongoing. Posting will hopefully resume later today.

b.

Posted by b on December 12, 2017 at 01:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (42)

December 10, 2017

Weekly Review And Open Thread 2017-45

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Dec 4 - Yemen Without Saleh

The unexpected end of Yemen's former president Saleh was followed by a Houthi campaign against his functionaries in Sanaa. At the same time the Saudi and UAE proxy forces in south-Yemen renewed their attacks towards Sanaa. The Houthi need to hold back on revenge against Saleh followers and concentrate on defense against the advancing enemy forces.

Dec 5 - Slapstick In Kiev

Saakashvili escaped the police, first by fleeing over the roofs of Kiev and then by being freed from a police car through the help of his supporters. He has since been apprehended again and is now in jail. No noise was heard from those foreign powers who supported the 2014 coup in Kiev. Only a few neocons still seem to hope that Saakashvili can play a role in their games. But without a big push from outside in favor of Saak the nazis and oligarchs that rule Kiev will let him rot in jail. That would a well deserved end of his career.

Dec 6 - Trump Settles Debt With Zionists - Confirms That Iran's Struggle Is Righteous

The "Arab leaders", aka the Gulf sheiks, have been mostly mum about Trump's prostration to the Zionists. The mildly criticizes his Jerusalem decision but took no action at all. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah and leaders of militia in Iraq and Syria have publicly shown some backbone and called fro active resistance. They have a long-term strategy of building up forces to tackle Israel. The decisive action following from Trump's remarks on Jerusalem is still years away.

Dec 7 - Republican 'Deficit Hawks'

Republican's betray their voters. Nothing new here, so do the Democrats. A welcome side-effect of the whole Russia-gate theater is to detract from the Democrats support for the Republican agenda.

Dec 8 - Trump Is Bashing The 'Salvator Saudi' - Why?

Yesterday the WSJ and the NYT had pieces on the changed atmosphere between Trump and the Saudis. But just like us they found no clue of what is really going on behind the scene. A head-fake?

Dec 9 - Syria - ISIS Is Defeated - The U.S. Is Next In Line

The Iranian General Soleimani is warning the U.S. military to leave Syria. He predicts that it can not hold the ground. The Kurds are slowly moving back into the Syrian-Russian-Iranian camp. The neocons at the British Henry Jackson Society are already up in arms about this and foresee the end of the U.S. occupation. How do they feel about being in the same camp as Soleimani?

Please use the comments as open thread ...

Posted by b on December 10, 2017 at 11:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (90)

December 09, 2017

Syria - ISIS Is Defeated - The U.S. Is Next In Line

The Islamic State in Syrian and Iraq is officially defeated. The UN resolution which allowed other countries to fight ISIS within Syria and Iraq no longer applies. But the U.S. military, despite the lack of any legal basis, wants to continue its occupation of Syria's north-east. The attempt to do so will fail. Its Kurdish allies in the area are already moving away from it and now prefer Russian protection. Guerrilla forces to fight the U.S. "presence" are being formed. The U.S. plan is shortsighted and stupid. If the U.S. insists on staying there many of its soldiers will die.

Two days ago the Syrian Arab Army closed the last gaps on the west bank of the Euphrates. Having fought all the way from Aleppo along the river towards the east the Tiger Force reached the liberated Deir Ezzor from the west. All settlements on the way are now controlled by the Syrian government. The remaining Islamic State fighters were pushed into the desert where they will be hunted down and killed.


Map via Southfront - bigger

Two days ago the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, declared a "complete victory" in Syria:

“Two hours ago, the (Russian) defense minister reported to me that the operations on the eastern and western banks of the Euphrates have been completed with the total rout of the terrorists,” Putin said.

“Naturally, there could still be some pockets of resistance, but overall the military work at this stage and on this territory is completed with, I repeat, the total rout of the terrorists,” he said.

Today the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi declared victory and the 'end of the war' against ISIS on the Iraqi side:

"Our forces are in complete control of the Iraqi-Syrian border and I therefore announce the end of the war against Daesh (IS)," Abadi told a conference in Baghdad.

North of the Euphrates the U.S. proxy force SDF had recently negotiated another agreement (42) with the remaining Islamic State fighters there. ISIS allegedly handed over a border crossing with Iraq to the SDF and in exchange was guaranteed free passage through SDF controlled areas. This agreement came after an earlier one in which the U.S. and SDF let 3,500 ISIS fighters flee from Raqqa to fight the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor. That was a U.S. attempt to delay or prevent the victory of Syria and its allies. It failed.

Shortly after the claimed new ceasefire between the U.S. SDF proxies and ISIS, Russian officers met with officials of the Kurdish YPG, the central force of the SDF. The talks completely changed the situation. In a joint press conference the Kurds and the Russians committed to work together to fight ISIS east of the Euphrates. It seems that the YPG is no longer convinced that the U.S. is willing to do so. The Russians took command and the Russian air forces has since supported the YPG in its fight against ISIS in Deir Ezzor governate on the eastern bank of the river:

“A joint operative staff has been created in the town of Es-Salhiya to provide direct control and organize the cooperation with the popular militia units. Apart from Russian advisors, representatives of the eastern Euphrates tribes are taken part in it,” Poplavskiy said, noting that in the “coming days” the entire territory east of Euphrates River will be free from terrorists.

Mahmoud Nuri, a representative of the Kurdish YPG, stated that the militia “battled ISIS under Russian command very effectively. Kurdish forces have also expressed readiness to ensure the safety of the Russian military specialists operating on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

The U.S. is seriously miffed that the Russians are suddenly supporting the U.S. proxy in Syria's north-east. The U.S. wants to claim the area for itself. (It probably also wants to protect the rest of ISIS there to reuse it when convenient.) The U.S. claims that the Russian air support for the Kurds is violating "coalition airspace".

The U.S. is not invited to Syria but now claims airspace above the country? The Russians, allied with the Syrian government, are invited to fly there. It is obvious who has a sound legal justification to be in the area and who has not. But the U.S. military hates to confront its own malice, and a competent adversary who knows how to play chicken:

In one instance, two Air Force A-10 attack planes flying east of the Euphrates River nearly collided head-on with a Russian Su-24 Fencer just 300 feet away — a knife’s edge when all the planes were streaking at more than 350 miles per hour. The A-10s swerved to avoid the Russian aircraft, which was supposed to fly only west of the Euphrates.
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Since American and Russian commanders agreed last month to fly on opposite sides of a 45-mile stretch of the Euphrates to prevent accidents in eastern Syria’s increasingly congested skies, Russian warplanes have violated that deal half a dozen times a day, according to American commanders. They say it is an effort by Moscow to test American resolve, bait Air Force pilots into reacting rashly, and help the Syrian Army solidify territorial gains ahead of diplomatic talks aimed at resolving the country’s nearly seven-year-old war.

ISIS is gone. There is no justification for any "coalition airspace". Where please is the "deal" that allows the U.S. to indefinitely occupy north-east Syria as it now officially demands?

The Pentagon plans to keep some U.S. forces in Syria indefinitely, even after a war against the Islamic State extremist group formally ends, to take part in what it describes as ongoing counterterrorism operations, officials said.

There are approximately 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, along with an unspecified number of contractors supporting them. Last month, the U.S. military withdrew 400 Marines from Syria, which U.S. forces first entered in the fall of 2016.

Officials earlier this week disclosed the plans for an open-ended commitment, known as a “conditions-based” presence.
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The Pentagon has said the forces will target parts of Syria that aren’t fully governed by either regime or rebel forces. The military says it has the legal authority to remain there.

The U.S. military has lots of fantasies about "legal authority" and "deals". We had already noted that such a "presence" in Syria is obviously illegal. The fig leaf of a UN resolution 2249 to fight ISIS no longer applies. Putin intentionally emphasized the "total rout of the terrorists" and the "complete" victory to point that out. There is absolutely no justification for the U.S. to stay. Moreover - the presence there is unsustainable.

The commander of the paramilitary forces which support the Syrian and Iraqi government sent a note to the U.S. to let it know that any remaining U.S. forces in Syria will be fought down:

[T]he commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp Brigadier General Haj Qassem Soleimani sent a verbal letter, via Russia, to the head of the US forces commander in Syria, advising him to pull out all US forces to the last soldier “or the doors of hell will open up”.

“My message to the US military command: when the battle against ISIS (the Islamic State group) will end, no American soldier will be tolerated in Syria. I advise you to leave by your own will or you will be forced to it”, said Soleimani to a Russian officer. Soleimani asked the Russian responsible to expose the Iranian intentions towards the US: that they will be considered as forces of occupation if these decide to stay in north-east Syria where Kurds and Arab tribes cohabit together.

In 1983 U.S. and French military barracks in Beirut were blown up after their forces had intervened on one side of the Lebanese civil war. Several hundred soldiers died. After the attack the U.S. pulled out of Lebanon. U.S. soldiers staying in north-east Syria can now expect a similar fate.

The U.S. claims that it has 2,000 soldiers in north-east Syria. This after it had claimed that the number was 500.  This new number was announced after it had already pulled out 400 marines and it is still way too low:

The updated figure does not reflect troops assigned to classified missions and some Special Operations personnel, Mr. Pahon said.

The U.S. had for months claimed that it only had 500 soldiers in the area. It did not even mention the contractors that follow its troops everywhere. The real number of U.S. personnal must have been ten times as high as the official one. The new official number is "2,000 and some".  The real new number is likely still above 3,500 plus several thousand contractors. This revelation confirms again that the U.S. military lies whenever and wherever it can.

The now remaining "more than 2,000" will need tens of tons of supplies each day and the U.S. has no secured supply line into north-east Syria. It is arrogant idiocy to keep the troops there in place. A few roving guerillas can easily choke those supplies. Each of the camps those troops occupy will be a target of external and inside attacks.

The YPG Kurds are already skipping out of their coalition with the U.S.. They are now making friends with the Russians who provide them with air-support where the U.S. wants to keep ISIS alive. How much longer will the U.S. soldiers in the YPG controlled areas be able to trust their "allies"?

The Pentagon says that the presence in Syria is “conditions-based” but it does not name any condition that would have to be fulfilled for ending it. General Soleimani seems to believe that a few hundred body bags arriving at Andrews airbase near Washington, DC might be enough condition fulfillment to do the trick.

The situation in other parts of Syria is largely unchanged. The various Takifiri groups in Idelb governate continue to slaughter each other. The Syrian forces will likely hold back their planned attacks into the area as long as their enemies there are devouring each other. But a year from now Idelb, and north-east Syria, will likely be back in the Syrian government's hand.

Posted by b on December 9, 2017 at 11:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (81)

December 08, 2017

Trump Is Bashing The 'Salvator Saudi' - Why?

The Trump administration seemed to get along very well with the Saudi tyrant and his son Mohammed bin Salman. They together admired the orb and joined up to bash Iran. But now the Trump administration scolded and embarrassed MbS three times in as many days. One wonders what is going on behind that scene.

In mid November a mysterious buyer bought a probably fake Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus Christ for a cool $450 million. On December 6 the New York Times reported that some Saudi prince was the front-man for the purchase:

He is a little-known Saudi prince from a remote branch of the royal family, with no history as a major art collector, and no publicly known source of great wealth. But the prince, Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, is the mystery buyer of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “Salvator Mundi,” which fetched a record $450.3 million at auction last month, documents show.

The revelation that Prince Bader is the purchaser, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times, links one of the most captivating mysteries of the art world with palace intrigues in Saudi Arabia that are shaking the region. Prince Bader splurged on this controversial and decidedly un-Islamic portrait of Christ at a time when most members of the Saudi elite, including some in the royal family, are cowering under a sweeping crackdown against corruption and self-enrichment.

As it happens, Prince Bader is a friend and associate of the leader of the purge: the country’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

The NYT did not explain how it had gained access to the documents it reviewed. Later that day Bloomberg reported that the painting would be shown in Abu Dhabi. This somewhat diverted from the trail to MbS:

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is getting Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi,” which sold last month at a Christie’s auction for $450 million, the most ever paid for a work of art.

Christie’s said the artwork will be going to the museum, but declined to say whether the Louvre Abu Dhabi bought the painting. The Louvre Abu Dhabi said in a tweet Wednesday: “Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi.

A day later, on December 7 the Trump administration gave a tip to the Wall Street Journal's Shane Harris. The real buyer, it confirmed, was the Saudi clown prince:

Prince Mohammed, known by his initials MBS, was identified as the buyer of the 500-year-old painting, “Salvator Mundi,” in U.S. intelligence reports, according to people with direct knowledge of the information. American officials have closely watched the activities of the 32-year-old, who is trying to portray himself as a reformer determined to root out corruption in the oil-rich kingdom.

The NYT had already hinted at MbS as the real buyer. But it did not say from where it had that information. The WSJ confirmed the buyer and made explicit that the Trump administration was behind the embarrassing leak.

A few weeks ago MbS arrested 200 of the richest and most powerful people in his country. He locked them in a hotel and is fleecing them for their money which, he says, was gained though corruption. That claim is nonsense. He simply wants to steal that money and let them know who the boss is.

The Saudis have a budget problem and are cutting on social spending in the country they rule. It does not look good to cut money from the poor, fleece other members of the wider family and to then waste a large fortune on a picture that might even be fake. On top of that owning that picture is religiously problematic for MbS. Under Wahhabi doctrine no visual portrayals of prophets like Jesus Christ are allowed.

The UAE again came to the rescue. Today the museum tweeted:

Louvre Abu Dhabi @LouvreAbuDhabi - 1:57 PM - 8 Dec 2017
Louvre Abu Dhabi is looking forward to displaying the Salvator Mundi by Leonardo Da Vinci. The work was acquired by the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi for the museum.

The Department of Culture and Tourism seemed to confirm (ar) that, but when the museum was directly asked by the AP it went mum:

Jon Gambrell جون @jongambrellAP - 8:07 AM - 8 Dec 2017
The Louvre Abu Dhabi refused to say whether they made the $450 million bid or if someone gave the Department of Culture and Tourism the painting when asked by the @AP.

Hmmm ... this is a cover up. Why is the UAE doing this?

The de-facto ruler of the UAE is the 56-year-old crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed. He is the mentor of (and brain behind) the 32-year-old crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman. Did MbS buy a little Christmas gift for MbZ, but was embarrassed when the Trump administration let the world know about it? Or is MbZ running covering for an outrageous buy MbS made for himself?

The buying of the picture is not the only issue at hand. Just the day before the administration leaked to the WSJ about the art deal, President Trump had publicly  scolded MbS about the situation in Yemen:

President Trump called on Saudi Arabia to lift its crushing blockade against its war-torn neighbor Yemen on Wednesday, hours after defying the kingdom and saying the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Trump said he had directed members of his administration to reach out to the Saudi leadership "to request that they completely allow food, fuel, water, and medicine to reach the Yemeni people who desperately need it."

Today Secretary of State Tillerson again pushed that line:

Speaking in Paris on Friday, Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, called on Saudi Arabia to be "measured" in its military operations in Yemen.
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Tillerson urged Saudi restraint.

"With respect to Saudi Arabia's engagement with Qatar, how they're handling the Yemen war that they're engaged in, the Lebanon situation, we would encourage them to be a bit more measured and a bit more thoughtful in those actions to, I think, fully consider the consequences," he said.

He once again demanded a "complete end" to the Saudi-led blockade of Yemen so that humanitarian aid and commercial supplies could be delivered.

Embarrassing MbS about the art buy and publicly(!) scolding hm for the situation in Yemen, for which the U.S. is just as much responsible as the Saudis, is quite an assault. What has MbS done - or not done - to deserve such a punishment?

Trump has just declared that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Did the administration expect the applause of the Saudis for its breaking of international law with regards to Jerusalem? Does it lash out to the Saudis to get their agreement?

If so the miscalculation is clearly on the U.S. side. It is impossible for the Saudis to concede the Haram al-Sharif, the mosque on the so called temple mount, to the Zionists. The Saudi King would no longer be the "custodian of the two holy mosques" in Mecca and Medina but the "seller of the third holy mosque" of Islam in Jerusalem. The people would kill him and his whole family.

If the issue of this public hustle it is not Jerusalem, what else might it be that the Trump administration wants and the Saudis can not, or are not willing to concede? 

A few hours ago the Saudi King fired his ankle biting Foreign Minster Adel al-Jubair. A relative of the king, Khaled bin Salman, will take the job. Is this related to the spat with Trump?

Posted by b on December 8, 2017 at 02:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (66)

December 07, 2017

Republican 'Deficit Hawks'

The Republican way of governing.

  • This deficit is increasing!
  • We need to cut taxes to spur growth. This will help to lower the deficit.
  • [Cut taxes, increase deficit.]
  • The deficit is increasing!
  • We need to cut Social-Security, Medicare and Medicaid to lower the deficit.
  • (rinse, repeat)

Ryan: Tax cuts have to be deficit neutral to conform with reconciliation - Sep 28 2017

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Thursday said the tax cuts included in the tax reform package Republican lawmakers crafted in conjunction with the Trump Administration have to be deficit neutral so as to conform with budget reconciliation rules.

GOP tax plan unlikely to swell deficit: Speaker Ryan tells Reuters - October 25, 2017

The U.S. Republican tax cut plan that President Donald Trump wants passed by the end of the year is unlikely to trigger a big deficit expansion because it will spur more investment and job growth, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

Ryan: I'm a deficit hawk and 'a growth advocate' - Nov 5 2017

"Paul Ryan deficit hawk is also a growth advocate. Paul Ryan deficit hawk also knows that you have to have a faster growing economy, more jobs, bigger take-home pay, that means higher tax revenues," Ryan told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday."

Ryan Dismisses Deficit Concerns to Chase a Political Win on Taxes - Nov 27 2017

The tax overhaul legislation that Ryan shepherded through the House -- the Senate takes up its version this week -- would add at least $1 trillion to budget deficits over the next decade, even when accounting for economic growth, according to independent tax analysts.

CBO: Senate tax plan would increase deficit by $1.4T over 10 years - Nov 27 2017

The Senate GOP's tax plan would increase the deficit by $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office estimates.

Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 - Dec 6 2017

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday said House Republicans will aim to cut spending on Medicare, Medicaid and welfare programs next year as a way to trim the federal deficit.

“We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said during an interview on Ross Kaminsky's talk radio show.

And no. The Democrats aren't any better. Look at the trillions Obama handed to Wall Street. That wasn't even a tax cut, it was a give-away. Obamacare is a sham,  willfully constructed in way that makes sure it can't survive. The Democrats only pretend to care for the people. As soon as they again have a majority and fake intent for pro-social reforms the Repubs will again whine about the deficit and the Democrats will be happy to fold.

Posted by b on December 7, 2017 at 02:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (51)

December 06, 2017

Trump Settles Debt With Zionists - Confirms That Iran's Struggle Is Righteous

U.S. President Trump announced today a change in the official U.S. view of the city of Jerusalem in Palestine:

President Trump on Wednesday formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing nearly seven decades of American foreign policy and setting in motion a plan to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to the fiercely contested Holy City.

“It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” said Mr. Trump.

This is not Trump's lone doing. The position has long had support of both parties in Congress:

The Senate’s top Democrat, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, told THE WEEKLY STANDARD Tuesday that he had advised Trump to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital.
...
A 1995 law declares that Jerusalem should “remain an undivided city” and “be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel,” but allows the president to issue waivers every six months delaying the move of the embassy for national security reasons. The Senate reaffirmed that law in June.
...
Maryland senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, reiterated his support for recognizing Jerusalem when asked Monday about the president’s potential announcement.

“I believe that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, so to me, that’s not news,” he told TWS.

In 2008 then presidential candidate Obama pandered to the Zionist Lobby in the U.S.:

Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.

Obama though left it at that speech and never made it official policy. Officially declaring Jerusalem an "undivided city" and capital of the Zionist entity means that there is no room for a Palestinian capital in east-Jerusalem. It buries the (fairy-)tale of a sovereign Palestinian state.

But that idea had been dead all along. The only reasons for U.S. presidents to circumvent the 22 year old law by issuing waivers was to pretend that the U.S. would be a neutral broker towards some peace between the (east-)European colonists and Palestinians. That was from start to end a deception. Congress and U.S. presidents are under control of the Zionist Lobby which can marshal enormous amounts of money to make or defeat candidates for legislative or executive offices. The Zionist billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who also sponsors the fascist Israel Prime Minister Netanyahoo, donated more then $100 million to the Trump campaign and tens of millions to Congress races. Today was time for Trump to settle some of that debt.

With the increasing buildup of Zionist settlements in the Palestinian West Bank areas under Netanyahoo, the two state solution had long been killed. The Palestinian dictator Mahmoud Abbas, who let this happen without resistance, is just a kapo used by the Israelis to keep the Palestinians down. The Palestinians in Gaza which defied the Zionist occupation were bombed whenever an Israeli Premier needed some diversion from domestic political trouble.

The U.S. is alone in its move. The global consensus and international legal status is that the issue of Jerusalem must be decided through negotiations. A city divided into of two capitals is the most expected outcome. The EU nations and other countries rejected the move. The Pope and other dignitaries spoke out against it.

The Trump declaration only reveals the true long-standing U.S. position but it still matters. It provides without doubt that the U.S. is the enemy of the people on the Middle East. It exposes those Arab rulers that seek to ally with the U.S. It elevates all those who have been fighting the U.S. all along.

The tyrant of Saudi Arabia and his clown prince son have agreed to Trumps move. Instead of declaring retaliatory measures they only issued pro-forma condemnations. Other Arab rulers which depend on Saudi money, like the Jordan King "Playstation" Abdullah, will likewise stay mostly quiet.

There will likely be only little violence in the immediate aftermath of the Trump declaration. The long term effects though will be significant. The Arab public, which gets little coverage in the "western" press, is seething. Professor Assad AbuKhalil reports:

Fury on Arab social media over Jerusalem
There is such a fury on Arab social media over Jerusalem but I am confident that none of the Western correspondents in Beirut or Cairo will notice in their dispatches.

and:

This in Saudi Arabia
Hashtag "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine" #1 trending right now in #KSA #Saudi #القدس_عاصمه_فلسطين_الابديه
PS It also is in Iraq and Algeria.
PS and in Syria.

This is today's front page of the Beirut Daily Star, a newspaper which is on most issues solidly in the "western" camp.


bigger

The Professor Amal Saad of the Lebanon University predicts:

Amal Saad @amalsaad_lb - 6:29 PM - 6 Dec 2017

Trump has no idea how his declaration will backfire. In violating Int'l law & legitimizing Israel's apartheid rule in Jerusalem, Int'l law will no longer serve as a framework for securing Palestinian rights- "from river to sea Palestine will be free" will be normalized discourse

Those parties that have resisted and continue to resist U.S. hegemony and the Zionists, will win in the public opinion of the Middle East. Those who cooperate with and enable the U.S. and its Zionist pendant will lose.

On the winning side are Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas (one can now also include the Houthi?) They have all long resisted imperialism despite enormous pressure and furious wars waged against them. Trump's move fits neatly into their narrative that the U.S. always was and continues to be an enemy of people of the Middle East. The public support for them will grow.

The other "winners" are the terrorists group which pretend to be against the U.S. and the Zionists but which have done little to fight them. These are al-Qaeda, ISIS and other Wahhabi/Takfiri groups. They use the issue as a recruiting tool but their paymasters keep them away from fighting the declared enemies.

Trump's move will increase the internal instability of those countries U.S. imperialism in the Middle East depends on. The Gulf States are the most endangered. Their pliant leaders will come under increased pressure from their own people. At some point that pressure will violently relief itself. I find it likely that the U.S. will be the first to be hurt by it.

Posted by b on December 6, 2017 at 02:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (203)

December 05, 2017

Slapstick In Kiev

Today a slapstick comedy played out in Kiev. It's background though is mysterious.

In 2015 the billionaire currently ruling the Ukraine by the grace of Washington, Petro Poroshenko, invited the disgraced former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, to run the city and region of Odessa. Saakashvili is charged in is home country Georgia with abuse of office and he has lost his Georgian citizenship.

The administration of Odessa is as corrupt as any other in the Ukraine but the money was flowing into the wrong pockets. Saakashvili set out to change that. He soon stepped on the sensible toes of some mighty people. After a year Poroshenko dismissed him. Saakashvili moved to the capital Kiev and started a ruckus against his former benefactor. Soon he was under investigation and accused of this or that criminal deed. When as he traveled outside of the country his Ukrainian passport was revoked and his reentry into the Ukraine was prohibited. Saakashvili entered anyway under the protection of some mysteriously paid supporters and moved back to Kiev. He recently led several protests marches against Poroshenko. Saakashvili was again indicted, this time for allegedly being paid by Moscow to arrange for a "Russian winter" coup against Poroshenko in Ukraine. Today the police went to arrest him at his apartment in Kiev.

When the police arrived Saakashvili fled onto the roof of the eight story house where he was caught (vid) by the police.

He was brought to the ground and pushed into a police van.

His supporters, who somehow had arrived in mass, blocked the road. After an hour and some clashes with the police they freed him (video) from the vehicle.

Saakashvili and his supporters went to hold a protest in front of the parliament. At the same time the Ukrainian Prosecutor General reported inside the parliament of tapped phone-calls in which some Russian middleman agrees to pay Saakashvili half a million for running more protests. Local TV transmitted a split-screen live stream of both.

One wonders what this really is about.

Who pays Saakashvili and his "protesters"?

What does Saakashvili, or the people behind him, want?

Why doesn't Poroshenko arrest Saakashvili in some unsuspicions moment?

Why not let him have an 'accident'?

Why not deport him to Georgia where he would likely go to jail?

Posted by b on December 5, 2017 at 02:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (57)

December 04, 2017

Yemen Without Saleh

Updated below

The former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been killed today. He was 75 years old but still very active in Yemeni politics. Video of his dead body being thrown onto the back of a pickup is making the rounds. One hears Houthi slogans shouted in the background. The pictures show a gun wound on the chest and at the side of the head. The face is easily recognizable. There are also pictures of his ID card.

Though several media report his death there is no confirmation yet from his GPC party or his family.

Over the last few days Houthi media had announced several times that Saleh had been killed. This morning Saleh's house was blown up. This time the Houthi news proved right. The circumstances of Saleh's death are not yet known, but it was said that he was fleeing Sanaa when fate caught up with him.

As we wrote in our recap on Saturday, Saleh had suddenly made peace with the Saudis and asked his followers to take up arms against his former allies. For more than two years he had allied with the Houthi against the U.S. and UK supported Saudi invasion and proxy forces. On Friday, after several days of local clashes with the Houthi, he had called for his followers to throw the Houthi out of the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

For a day his fighters, led by some 1,000 soldiers of Saleh's personal guards, were successful and the Houthi were kicked out of many of their positions. But they were not defeated. They called up more of their troops and on Sunday regained the lost ground and buildings. They occupied Saleh's media. His TV station started to transmit his enemies chants. Over the last night and throughout today they defeated Saleh's troops.

It is yet a mystery why not more of Saleh's supporters came to his help. Sanaa is his home turf and whenever he had called for demonstrations in the city, hundreds of thousands attended. For much of his 34 years of rule as president and even after his forced resignation Saleh could call on the seven "collar tribes" who's territory surround the capital. This time they did not come to his aid. Saleh also continued to command significant parts of the former Yemeni army. These currently hold positions far outside of Sanaa against Saudi proxy forces who try to conquer the mountainous territory of northwest Yemen. One wonders why he had not called them back in time. 

It may be that his unexpected turn-on-a-dime towards a new alliance with the eternal enemies of Yemen, the Saudis, has alienated his followers.

The Saleh family and clan is quite big and resourceful. Many of his relatives have held high military positions in the Yemeni army and keep enough money to pay for their troops loyalty. Some nephew of his may take up his banner. It is unsure though if such a replacement could gain the following of the former army units Ali Abdullah could call on.

The Saudis had recently bet on Saleh to end the stalemate in their war on Yemen. Had he won out, it could have meant a pause in the war and probably its end. With the Houthi now having the upper hand in Sanaa, the war, the permanent Saudi bombing and the blockade of Yemen are likely to continue. The Houthi will continue to attack within Saudi Arabia and the fight against the Saudi proxy forces on the ground will go on.

It will need another breakthrough event for the war to stop.

Update:

In previous pieces on Yemen MoA had quoted Haykal Bafana and Iona Craig. Both live in Yemen. Here are their first thoughts on Ali Abdullah Saleh's death:

@BaFana3 - 6:49 AM - 4 Dec 2017

I cannot describe the deep grief I feel. Ali Abdullah Saleh was the greatest leader #Yemen ever had. He never surrendered: He died a martyr in his homeland Yemen, as a Yemeni fighting for Yemen's cause. I salute Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, both in life and in death.

 

@ionacraig - 6:13 AM - 4 Dec 2017

I was 1st foreign journalist to interview Saleh after he stepped down. He said his memoirs wouldn't be published until after his death as they contained secrets about many people. I responded "So a lot of people should be afraid the day that you die?" He laughed & said "InshAllah"

Followers of Saleh and his family will now consider revenge against the Houthi for Saleh's death as their highest priority:

@SaadAbedine - 2:21 PM - 4 Dec 2017

Unconfirmed reports that Ahmed, #Saleh’s eldest son & former commander of #Yemen’s Republican Guard, will be addressing the nation tonight at 9 PM local & that he was released from his house arrest in #UAE, en route to Marib to lead the fight & seek revenge from #Houthi rebels

Posted by b on December 4, 2017 at 08:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (205)

December 03, 2017

Weekly Review And Open Thread 2017-44

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Nov 27 - Saudi Arabia - Budget Dilemma Escalates - Salmans Resort To Product Placement?

That question was, of course, not  serious. But the issue documented in those pictures is still a true mystery to me. Why do the Saudi tyrants insist of prominently placing trivial Cisco phones in their official pictures of international meetings? What are the phones supposed to symbolize? Wealth? Style? Command authority? Power?

Nov 28 - Turning The Corner In Afghanistan

The U.S. has "turned the corner" in Afghanistan so often that it is now too dizzy find an exit.

Nov 28 - Last Call - Please Support This Unique Endeavor

Moon of Alabama asked for donations. The response has been uplifting. (If you haven't donated yet, please click above.) It will take weeks until the last donation arrives and a finally tally can be made. A heartfelt "Thank you!" to everyone who donated and helps to keep this site going. Related - sometime  yesterday this blog broke the 25 million pageviews mark! 

Nov 29 - State Department Condemns* Designation Of Media As Foreign Agents (*only applies to Russia)

The U.S. started a spat with Russia by designating Russia Today as a "foreign agents". It laments about press freedom when Russia does likewise. Hypocrites. The latest U.S. move was to deny Russia Today access to the Congressional Gallery and the White House. Russia will retaliate in kind. All "western" media will be banned from reporting from the Russian Duma. To what end was this nonsense started?

Nov 30 - North Korea: "The Missile Program Is Now Complete

The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea aka North Korea demonstrated a new missile that can deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental U.S.. The huge new missile was the last item missing in its arsenal. It is now a fully nuclear capable. Washington is still in denial of that and speaks of an illegal "preemptive strike" against North Korea. Such a strike would risk the loss of one or more U.S. cities to a nuke shot off in retaliation. The only path forward is through negotiations.

Dec 1 - Flynn's Devastating Confessions: Trump Colluded With Israel, Tried To Fulfill Campaign Promises

The plea deal of Trump's former National Security Advisor turns out to be nothing-burger with regards to the alleged "collusion" with Russia. Flynn lobbied the Russians ambassador in favor of Israel and to fulfill Trump's campaign promise of better relations with Russia. Flynn was stupid enough to lie to the FBI about the content of phone-calls that the FBI had transcripts of. Robert Parry rightly argues that Flynn was intentionally set-up and trapped by operatives of the outgoing Obama regime.

Dec 2 - Yemen - Saudis Throw The Towel - Saleh is Baaack - Russia Wins

Yesterday's post said that former president Saleh was recovering the capital Sanaa from his previously ally, the Houthi. It may have been premature. After having been ousted from most of their positions in Sanaa, the Houthis called up reinforcements and came back with vengeance. As of now they recovered some positions and took over the TV station and other media of Saleh's GPC party. Fighting in Sanaa is ongoing. If Saleh loses this fight the war on Yemen is likely to continue.

Please use the comments as open thread ...

Posted by b on December 3, 2017 at 10:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (61)

December 02, 2017

Yemen - Saudis Throw The Towel - Saleh is Baaack - Russia Wins

The war on Yemen has finally taken a turn towards an end. Former President Saleh is back in his leading position. They Saudis accepted their defeat. The Houthis will be thrown out of the capital Sanaa and return to their northern areas. Yemen is devastated and will need to rebuild. Everyone who participated in this war has lost. The only winner is Russia.

A recap:

During the "Arab spring" (U.S.) induced Yemeni revolution President Saleh was kicked out after ruling the country for 34 years. In 2012 the former Vice-President Hadi was "elected" as the new president on a one choice ballot. With U.S. support the system prevailed.


bigger

As I noted at that time:

The U.S. missed the chance to use the movement against Saleh for some real transition in Yemen. This will come back to bite.

Hadi was a Saudi puppet unable to rule the country. He tried to form a unity government under the National Dialogue Conference sponsored by the Gulf Cooperation Council. But two major constituencies were left out of the effort: the northern Yemeni Houthis of Zaidi belief, who for years had fought against Saudi-Wahhabi indoctrination in Yemen, and the followers of the ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Houthis and Saleh had fought each other for over a decade. Now they had a common enemy and united their efforts.

In 2015 the Houthi and Yemeni army troops loyal to Saleh took over the capital Sanaa. Hadi resigned (twice), fled to Aden in the south and later onto Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis were afraid to lose influence over their dirt poor but self-confident neighbor. They falsely alleged that the Houthis were supported by their perceived arch-enemy Iran. They declared war on the country and tried to invade it. The U.S. and the UK supported and still support the Saudi war with intelligence, refueling flights for Saudi bombers and massive weapon supplies.

The Saudis sent their troops to invade the country, their neighboring United Arab Emirates sent its forces and additional mercenaries were hired from Sudan, south America and where ever they could be found. All to no avail. While the Saudis dropped more than 100 bombs per day onto Yemen their forces were defeated every time they tried to enter the mountainous heartland. The Houthi counterattacked within Saudi Arabia. They had no shoes but huge balls. Hundreds of Saudi border posts and military checkpoints were destroyed by them.

The Saudis tried to starve the Houthis of weapons, food and other supplies. They blockaded the country and bombed weapon depots, factories and all infrastructure. They completely destroyed Houthi cities in the north and tried to assassinate the leaders of the rebellion. Tens of thousands of Yemenis died in the often indiscriminate attacks. But the Houthi held out. For decades Yemen had been filled up with weapons. During his decades long rule former president Saleh had stashed ten-thousands of tons of ammunition and equipment. Additional supplies were captured or bought from the Saudi mercenaries.

The former Yemeni army units loyal to Saleh, as well as Saleh himself, stayed in the background. Their most visible contribution to the war was the launch of short range ballistic missiles (SRBM) against Saudi cities and military positions. These weapons had been bought earlier and were modified to have extended reach (see the excursion below).

The Saudi were stuck in a stalemate that cost them over $800 million per month. Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State were flourishing in the south which the Saudis and their allies nominally controlled. Saudi proxies were infighting with troops from the UAE. Missiles were falling down on Saudi cities. While only few missiles hit their targets each of them demonstrated the impotence of the Saudi rulers.

The Saudis finally send out peace feelers to former president Saleh. The Russians, who had kept their embassy in Sanaa open throughout the war, acted as the middleman. In mid October the first results of the diplomatic efforts became visible:

A Russian medical team flew into Sanaa on Oct. 11 with the approval of the Saudis, who control Yemeni airspace. The Russian surgeons then performed a life-saving procedure on the 75-year-old Saleh. Some reports say the surgery took place at the Russian Embassy in the capital. Saleh's exact health issue is unclear, but it apparently is a result of the severe burns and other injuries he suffered during an assassination attempt in 2011.
...
Most likely the Saudis are hoping to break the rebel alliance between Saleh and the Houthis, which has been fraying this year.
...
Both King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have their prestige heavily invested in this war. They rushed into it precipitously 2½ years ago.
...
Salman was in Moscow earlier this month for an unprecedented state visit to Russia. ... It is reasonable to assume that the king and Putin discussed the Yemeni imbroglio. Russia has been openly critical of the UN's approach to the conflict, which Moscow rightly says is too friendly to the Saudi argument and insufficiently even-handed.

While Saleh was sick, the Houthis became uppity. They arrested and killed Saleh followers in Sanaa, occupied bases of his troops and raided homes of his officers. They may have gotten wind of the ongoing negotiations between Saleh and the Saudis. Over the last months their behavior towards their compatriots in Sanaa became unendurable.

Meanwhile negotiations between Saleh and the Saudis were ongoing in the backrooms and on the battle field. On November 4 the Yemeni troops launched a missile against the airport of the Saudi capital Riyadh. U.S. provided missile defense systems destroyed the missile before it hit, but the public damage was done. A serious hit on the airport would likely close it for civilian traffic. The economic and political consequences for the Saudi tyrants would be huge.

The Saudis responded with a total blockade of Yemen. Neither food nor medicine was allowed to pass. This led to a famine, hundreds of death per day and finally to a public outcry from the otherwise slavish UN. Not even the hundreds of millions the Saudis spend to manipulate the global media could prevent the backlash.

Another missile was fired on Thursday to increase the pressure. It targeting the southern Saudi city of Khamis Mushait. The Saudis finally folded. They agreed to Saleh's conditions.

We do not yet know what these conditions are but Saleh publicly announced that a deal had been made and immediately went to work. His first target were the no-longer-allied Houthi:

ADEN (Reuters) - Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Saturday he was ready for a "new page" in relations with the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen if it stopped attacks on his country.

The call came as his supporters battled Houthi fighters for a fourth day in the capital Sanaa while both sides traded blame for a widening rift between allies that could affect the course of the civil war.
...
"I call upon the brothers in neighboring states and the alliance to stop their aggression, lift the siege, open the airports and allow food aid and the saving of the wounded and we will turn a new page by virtue of our neighborliness," Saleh said in a televised speech.

The Saudis likewise publicly announced their agreement:

The Arab coalition has made a statement on Saturday amidst the ongoing fierce clashes in Sanaa.
...
The coalition also said that it recognizes the noble members of the the Yemeni General People’s Congress (GPC), the GPC’s leadership and the Yemeni people who were forced to remain under Houthi-Iranian control. Also, the coalition recognizes that these noble individuals have endured numerous murder threats, torture, bombings and seizure of public and private property.

The Yemeni General People’s Congress (GPC) is Saleh's party. He is still the GPC chairperson. Saleh is now again the Saudi accepted ruler of Yemen. The "legitimate" president Hadi will be buried in Riyadh.

Saleh called on all his followers to oust the Houthi from their positions. His nephew and potential successor Colonel Tariq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh will lead a new military council and run that side of the business. Houthi posters in Sanaa have been teared down. There is some fierce fighting ongoing in the city. Sanaa is Saleh territory. His troops are prepared and he is very likely to win the fight.

It is now left to Saleh and his family and followers to clean up the utter mess the U.S. induced "revolution" and the Saudi war on Yemen have caused. The Saudis will have to pay billions in reparations. Saleh's family will plunder a huge share of these. Despite the money Saleh is, like always, no ones puppet but the snake that bites everyone who stands in his way. That is how and why he could rule for so long.

The Houthis, who bravely fought against the Saudis, became too sure of themselves and too obnoxious towards their own people to be able to rule. They will be ousted from Sanaa and pushed back into their devastated northern homelands.

Everyone in Yemen lost in this war. Many, many have died for no good reason. It will take decades to rebuild all that was destroyed. The Saudis and the U.S. behind them have lost face and standing throughout the Arab world. They tried to fuck Yemen but Yemen fucked them.

The only real winners of the war are the Russians. They again demonstrated that they are able to create peace where the U.S. only creates war and chaos.

---

Excursion:

The Saudis have alleged all along that the Houthi are an Iranian proxy force. That is not true. The Houthis are not Shia and not follower of Iranian state doctrines. They don't take orders. The military support they receive from Iran is minimal. The Saudis especially allege that the missiles fired under the Houthi label by the former Yemen troops under Saleh's command are of Iranian origin. But that is unlikely. Yemen has been under Saudi blockade for more than two years and ballistic  missiles can not be smuggled under a coat. Yesterday Reuters released a short piece in supports of the Saudi allegations. But a closer reading shows that these are false.

In mid November a confidential report by a UN panel found no evidence that the missiles launched against the Saudis are of QIAM-1 type from Iran:

The supporting evidence provided in these [Saudi] briefings is far below that required to attribute this attack to a Qiam-1 SRBM,” wrote the panel. “The Saudi-Arabia led coalition has not yet though attributed the attempted attack against KKIA” — King Khalid International Airport, in the Saudi capital Riyadh — “to any particular type of SRBM.”

The Panel has seen no evidence to support claims of SRBM having been transferred to the Houthi-Saleh alliance from external sources in violation of paragraph 14 of resolution 2216,” the brief went on.

Like the specialists of IHS Janes (see below) the UN panel assessed that the missiles were modifications of a type that Yemen had earlier bought from North Korea:

The Yemeni military, the panel added, retained existing stockpiles of SCUD-B and Hwasong-6 missiles that were not completely destroyed by earlier Saudi airstrikes. The panel cite a Houthi spokesperson who said missiles that had been damaged were subsequently repaired and modified. “The panel has not discounted though that Yemen based foreign missile specialists may be providing advice,” the brief cautioned. The panel raised the possibility that missiles may have been altered to extend their range to reach targets farther into Saudi Arabia.

Now Reuters is trying to revive the Saudi claim by reporting on a new assessment with a very deceiving headline. Exclusive: Yemen rebel missiles fired at Saudi Arabia appear Iranian - U.N.:

Remnants of four ballistic missiles fired into Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Houthi rebels this year appear to have been designed and manufactured by Riyadh’s regional rival Iran, a confidential report by United Nations sanctions monitors said, bolstering a push by the United States to punish the Tehran government.

The Reuters claim in its opening paragraph is not what the panel really said. Deeper into the report:

The independent panel of U.N. monitors, in a Nov. 24 report to the Security Council seen by Reuters on Thursday, said it “as yet has no evidence as to the identity of the broker or supplier” of the missiles
...
Design characteristics and dimensions of the components inspected by the panel are consistent with those reported for the Iranian designed and manufactured Qiam-1 missile,” the monitors wrote.

I agree that the "design characteristics" and "dimensions of components" are consistent with the QIAM-1. The explanation for that is trivial. The Iranian QIAM-1 is:

a licensed copy of the North Korean Hwasong-6.

The Hwasong-6:

is a North Korean tactical ballistic missile. It is derived from the Hwasong-5, itself a derivative of the Soviet R-17 Elbrus. It carries the NATO reporting name Scud.

According to an IHS Janes report (pdf) the missiles the Saleh government of Yemen had bought from North Korea were of the Hwasong-5 and probably Hwasong-6 type:

Prior to the outbreak of the current conflict, Yemen was known to have acquired R-17 Elbrus (SS -1C 'Scud B') ... ballistic missile systems from the Soviet Union
...
Spanish naval vessels intercepted a ship carrying 15 Scud-type ballistic missiles to Yemen in December [2002]. That ship was later allowed to complete the delivery. The missiles found on board were 'Scud Bs' (a reference to North Korea's Hwasong-5 copy of the R-17), according to a June 2003 US diplomatic cable. ,,, [I]t is possible that it was one of several shipments that also included longer-range variants such as the Hwasong-6, which is also known as the 'Scud-C', and has a range of 500-550 km.

The Yemen army has over 30 years of experience with Scud-type missiles and knows how to modify these. They revealed "new Yemeni made" Burkan missiles before they fired on Riyadh. Janes notes:

The stated dimensions of the Burkan-1 suggest that it is a standard Scud that has been lengthened with additional sections welded into its fuselage and fuel tanks so that it can carry the additional propellant needed to extend its range. Iraq carried out similar modifications to produce Al Hussein missiles capable of reaching Tehran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.
...
The Burkan-2 appears to use a new type of warhead section that is locally fabricated. Both Iran and North Korea have displayed Scud derivatives with shuttlecock-shaped warheads, but none of these match the Yemeni version. The range of the Burkan missiles also appears to have been extended by a reduction in the weight of their warheads.

The Yemenis use locally modified Haewsong-5 and 6 missiles bought from North Korea. Iran builds a licensed copy of the Haewsong-6 under the name QIAM-1. These QIAM missiles will naturally have similar "design characteristics" and "dimensions of components" as the North Korean missiles the Yemenis use.

Reuters is pointing its readers into the false direction when it claims that the Yemeni missiles "appear Iranian". In reality both, the Yemeni Burkan as well as the Iranian QIAM, are variants of the same North Korean Haewsong-5 and 6 which are themselves copies of the Soviet R-17/Scud-B/Scud-C types. All of these were build from the same specification sheet and engineering drawings. That their dimensions and parts look alike, as the UN panel says, follows from that but proves absolutely nothing.

Posted by b on December 2, 2017 at 12:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (127)

December 01, 2017

Flynn's Devastating Confessions: Trump Colluded With Israel, Tried To Fulfill Campaign Promises

The anti-Trump "resistance" campaign alleges that the Russian government tried to "influence" the U.S. election. It insinuates that Trump "colluded" with the Russians in these alleged attempts. It has no evidence for any of its claims. The intent of this campaign is to handicap the Trump administration as much as possible and to prevent better U.S. relations with Russia.

A witch hunt was launched in which the Mueller investigation in the alleged election manipulation as well as Congress hearings are used to throw as much dirt as possible into the direction of the Trump administration to then see what might stick. 

While retired army-general Michael Flynn worked for the Trump campaign he was also a lobbyist for a rich person near to the Turkish government. He made $600,000 off that gig. The Trump campaign did not know about this. Flynn also attended an anniversary celebration for Russia Today in Moscow. He had been hired as a paid speaker for the occasion and his speaker agency charged $40,000 for it.

Flynn was fired from the job as National Security Advisor 24 days after Trump#s inauguration. He had been stupid enough to announce that he wanted to reform the CIA and the other intelligence agencies. Those agencies made sure that such would not happen.

Flynn was questioned by the FBI in connection with the Mueller investigation into alleged Russian influence on the 2016 election campaign. He lied to the FBI about some diplomatic contacts he had made on request of the then incoming Trump administration. The FBI managed to prove that he had lied. In the U.S. lying to the FBI is a serious crime. (I am not aware of other country that has such a stupid rule.) Flynn was offered a plea deal. He is supposed to tell Mueller what Mueller wants to hear in exchange for a lower penalty for his "crime" of lying to the FBI.

But look what the real issues were Flynn lied about:

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and authorities indicated in court he was acting under instructions from senior Trump transition officials in his dealings with the diplomat.

Flynn contacted the senior Russian diplomat in Washington DC. He was surely aware that the NSA and CIA notice and listen in to all such contacts. Flynn had no reason to believe that such contacts were out of norm because they ain't. Incoming administrations need such contacts to prepare their polices.

There are two different issues about which Flynn contacted the Russian ambassador:

In one of the conversations described in court documents, the men discussed an upcoming United Nations Security Council vote on whether to condemn Israel’s building of settlements. At the time, the Obama administration was preparing to allow a Security Council vote on the matter.
...
Mr. Mueller’s investigators have learned through witnesses and documents that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel asked the Trump transition team to lobby other countries to help Israel, according to two people briefed on the inquiry. Investigators have learned that Mr. Flynn and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, took the lead in those efforts. Mr. Mueller’s team has emails that show Mr. Flynn saying he would work to kill the vote, the people briefed on the matter said.

The Security Council vote was on December 23 2016. The Israeli government lobbied the incoming administration to influence that vote in the Israeli government's interest. The Trump administration in-waiting could not influence the Obama administration which had decided to abstain. It contacted the Russian ambassador to influence the Russians to block the vote in the UNSC. The Russian's did not do such.

The "collusion" here is between the Israeli government and the Trump campaign. The "influence" is two part. A successful Israeli attempt to influence the incoming Trump administration and an unsuccessful attempt by Trump people to influence the Russian UNSC vote. The issue has absolutely zero to do with the U.S. election.

Now onto the second issue:

In the other discussion, according to court documents, Mr. Flynn asked Mr. Kislyak that Moscow refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions announced by the Obama administration that day against Russia over its interference in the presidential election. And Mr. Kislyak told Mr. Flynn that Russia “had chosen to moderate its response,” the documents said.

The following day, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said Moscow would not retaliate against the United States in response to the sanctions.

Mr. Trump praised the Russian leader in a Twitter post.

“Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart!” Mr. Trump wrote.

Throughout his election campaign Trump had loudly argued for better relations with Russia. He said it would be easier to solve global problems if the U.S. and Russia cooperate.

The Obama administration had a generally hostile attitude towards Russia. It walked the relations towards a new cold war. Clinton's loss of the election which she blamed, without evidence, on Russia amplified his moves. According to the book 'Shattered', which describes the Clinton campaign, the decision to blame Russia for her loss was made a day after Trump's victory:

That strategy had been set within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.

At the end of 2016 Obama sanctioned Russian officials over allegedly influencing the U.S. campaign. No evidence was ever presented that such "influencing" was attempted or happened. Obama just willfully tried to worsen the relations with Russia.

The incoming administration tried to prevent more damage in the relations between the U.S. and Russia by contacting the Russian ambassador. It was a smart and well reasoned measure. There was no "collusion" in this. The "influence" was again from the Trump campaign into the direction of the Russian government, not the other way around. It had nothing to do with the election.

The Clinton fan-boys and girls seem happy with the Flynn's plea deal and are fretting about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. But how this is supposed to show that something nefarious was going on is not discernible.  How the issues Flynn lied about (for whatever stupid reason) are supposed to prove "Russian influence" on the election or "collusion" with Trump during the election campaign is beyond me.

Posted by b on December 1, 2017 at 01:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (93)