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June 01, 2018

Ukraine - The Babchenko Hoax Was Part Of A Corporate Raid

The case of the death and resurrection of the Russian journalist Babchenko in Kiev is even more surreal than it seemed so far. According to Ukrainian sources and court documents the whole hoax was part of an attempt to raid and take over a private company. 

Babchenko himself and the man who was hired to "kill" him had cooperated with the main branch of the Ukrainian national security service (SBU). The "operator", who is accused of having hired the "killer" for Russia, appeared in court. He claimed to have cooperated with the Ukrainian counter intelligence agency, which is side branch of the national security service. The accused "operator" is an executive of a private joint venture and has been under pressure over claims against his company. There are indications that the whole stunt may have been staged to get him "out of the way" to then take over the company he leads.

The suggestion is that high levels of the Ukrainian security services staged the whole affair not only to blame Russia but also for someone's personal gain.

In 2017 Arkady Babchenko, despised in Russia for his open hostility against its people, came via Israel to the Ukraine. He was welcome in Kiev for his anti-Russian position. Babchenko found a job with ATR, a Crimean Tatar TV station. The fine-print on the ATR website says that it "was supported by the Media Development Fund of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine".

On May 29 the Ukrainian government claimed that Babchenko had been assassinated. As usual the death of a journalist hostile to Russia was used by NATO aligned media to blame Russia, the Kremlin and Putin. That there was zero evidence that Russia was involved did not matter at all.  A photo of the allegedly killed Babchenko laying in his blood emerged.


Crisis actor Arkady Babchenko - bigger

The very next day the General Prosecutor of the Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko and the head of the National Security Service (SBU) Vasyl Grytsak (also written as Hrytsak) held a press conference and presented a very alive and happy Arkady Babchenko. He had not been shot at all. The whole hoax, it was explained, was launched to find the people behind an alleged assassination campaign originating in Russia. In this official version the Russians hired some Ukrainian "operator" who then hired the "killer" to assassinate Babchenko. The hired killer told the police about it and the hoax of Babchenko's death was staged to find the culprits behind the plot.

All those western "journalists" who had believed Ukrainian government claims without any evidence and wrote unfounded accusations  against Russia were not amused. The Ukrainian government exposed them as the mere propaganda tools and fools they are. The "journalist"  Babchenko himself, interviewed by Bloomberg's Leonid Bershidsky, comes off as a naive and rather dim light.

Yesterday the "hired killer", one Alexey Tsymbalyuk, went public. He is a Ukrainian nationalist who had fought against the the Russia supported entities in eastern Ukraine. He has since become an orthodox priest.

Cont. reading: Ukraine - The Babchenko Hoax Was Part Of A Corporate Raid

Posted by b at 12:33 PM | Comments (93)

May 31, 2018

How Many People Read This Blog And What Does It Take To Run It? - A Donation Request

As I ask you to donate for this blog I feel compelled to detail some numbers.

The system Moon of Alabama runs on does not store individual user data. It only delivers summary statistics. Here is the available overview.

Over the lifetime of this blog its pages have been viewed -in total- about 31,200,000 times. Some 7,000 posts were published here and the readers contributed about 350,000 comments (screenshot [link corrected] taken at 14:30 UTC today).

During the last few months page-views per day varied between 20,000 and 30,000. Each individual reader will view two to three pages per visit. The total average readership is thus up to 10,000 people per day.

Once a while some bigger blog or news site will link to Moon of Alabama. This creates peaks of 100,000 and more page-views per day.

Screenshot taken at 14:30 GMT/UTC today - bigger

The daily number depends on the season, day of the week and other such variables.

The most important factor though is the subject-matter and quality of what I write and post. The pieces about the recent Skripal affair were especially well received.

The average Moon of Alabama post is about 1,000 words long. The aim is to publish one of these per day.

Continuous research is the most time-consuming part of the work. It takes six to eight hours per day to stay current in the fields the blog seeks to cover. An average length piece takes between two and four hours to write and another one or two hours to edit. (Inevitably there will still be mistakes in it.) Reading and policing the 100+ reader comments per day takes another hour. Writing for and running Moon of Alabama is truly a full time job.

That is why your support is absolutely essential to continue this site. Your donations are the only income I have. 

A big thank you to everyone who already contributed to the current Poor Poet campaign.  

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Those who have not done so can still chip in.

Each donation to this Poor Poet - be it $5, $50 or $500 - is equally welcome and needed.

Transaction costs are the smallest when you send cash or a check. You can also use a bank transfer (SEPA/IBAN). Send email to MoonofA @ aol.com (remove the spaces) for the necessary details. (They are the same as before.) You can use a credit card or other means when you donate through the PayPal button below. (The receiving account is in Euro - 1 Euro is about US$ 1.20)

Thank you very much!

Bernhard aka b.

Posted by b at 01:27 PM | Comments (47)

The Purpose Of The Babchenko Hoax

The Ukrainian secret service SBU claims it plotted the fake murder of the Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko in Kiev to uncover a real murder plot by the Russian state. That makes no sense at all.

The hoax is one of several incidents which dangerously escalate the new cold war.

As former British ambassador Craig Murray comments on the SBU's explanation:

Craig Murray @CraigMurrayOrg - 19:24 UTC- 30 May 2018

If you believe that particular piece of Ukrainian propaganda you are even more stupid than I had already deduced. I wore a book on my head today to prevent Boris Johnson stealing my fridge. My fridge is so there, which is undoubted proof that my scheme worked and Johnson guilty.

Here is how the BBC presents the Ukrainian fairytale:

Ukrainian security chief Vasyl Hrytsak said a sting had been set up to catch hitmen paid by Russian forces.
...
Babchenko said he had been informed a month ago about an alleged Russian plot to kill him. He said he had agreed to co-operate with a counter-operation and had been in constant contact with Ukrainian security services over the course of the past month.

He added that he thought security services had been planning the operation for up to two months.

Mr Hrytsak said the operation had begun after Ukrainian security services were informed about a Russian plot to kill the journalist.

He alleged that Russian security forces had recruited a Ukrainian citizen to find hitmen within Ukraine. He said the citizen had approached several acquaintances, including war veterans, offering $30,000 (£22,600) for the contract killing, one of whom revealed the plot to the security services.

The story as the SBU tells it:

  • the Russian secret service FSB hired a Ukrainian citizen to find someone to kill Babchenko
  • the Ukrainian citizen hires a killer
  • the hired killer tells the SBU about it and cooperates
  • the SBU knew from him who the Ukrainian middleman of the plot was and has now arrested him

If that is the story why would the SBU stage the murder hoax? They cooperated with the hired killer and had contact or access to the man who allegedly hired him. What else was there to know to prevent the alleged plot? What is the evidence they gained?

The official reason for the murder hoax was:

... to detain those responsible and prove the direct involvement of the Russian special service in the preparation of attempted murder of Mr. Babchenko.

That first part was achievable without the hoax. What about the second one? Was that achieved?

Mascha Gessen writes in the New Yorker:

Cont. reading: The Purpose Of The Babchenko Hoax

Posted by b at 05:20 AM | Comments (105)

May 30, 2018

Propaganda Killing Kills Propaganda - First The Skripals, Now Arkady Babchenko Come Back From The Dead

An "enemy of Putin" is attacked. Authorities immediately raise accusations against Russia and the Kremlin. Public condemnation follows. There are calls to sanction Russia.

But the information is murky. The details don't make sense. Critical questions follow. After the while the "dead" come back from death.

The above was the script followed in the Skripal affair. The "deadly nerve agent - of a type developed by Russia-" did not kill at all. Now a similar case happened.

Arkady Babchenko: Ukraine blames Russia for journalist murder - BBC:

Cont. reading: Propaganda Killing Kills Propaganda - First The Skripals, Now Arkady Babchenko Come Back From The Dead

Posted by b at 12:04 PM | Comments (94)

May 29, 2018

Please Support The Poor Poet

Dear reader, your support is absolutely essential to continue this site.

Moon of Alabama provides news and analysis which mainstream media cover late or not at all. This site is free. It serves original thought and no-nonsense writing on a (nearly) daily basis. It has an open and lively comment section. It is the full-time effort of this single person.

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Cont. reading: Please Support The Poor Poet

Posted by b at 06:59 AM | Comments (75)

Italy - The Beginning of the End of the European Union - by Debs is Dead

by Debs is Dead
lifted from a comment

The news out of Italy over the last two days has the potential to completely change the game as it could end in the destruction of the EU.

The original Euro Community was an admirable ideal as it emphasised the rights of all citizens of member states, guaranteeing them a range of protections from unjust and stupid demagogues. Unfortunately the neolib corporatist globalists took over the machinery and turned it over to a gang of cold-hearted technocrats who used the once estimable governance structure to enforce a draconian monetarist policy. - see Greece.

Now Italy has finally jacked up and the EU, mimicking Amerikan methods that have wreaked so much havoc upon the world (see the 1975 dismissal of the elected Australian Labour Government by the englander queen), the EU has bribed, blackmailed or extorted the Italian president Mattarella, into destroying Italy's newly elected government just because he suspects this government sees Italy's future outside the Franco-German dominated Eurozone (Germany bludgeons with money, France has the military power). Italy's prez just like Australia's Governor-General is alleged by the PTB to be apolitical then when the ordure hits the ventilator citizens discover that the loudmouths weren't nutter conspiracy theorists, they had been speaking the truth.

The new government is a strange marriage of left and right which perplexes neolibs but makes sense to voters who aren't over the moon about the innate racism of the rightists or the old school leftists regard for centralisation, but who consider that the extreme tendencies will be cancelled out with the new government unifying around their shared belief in the primacy of the Italian people. Mattarella has completely ignored the election result and is trying to install an IMF technocrat as the leader of an unelected government. Even that worthless neolib whore england's grauniad sees Matarella's move as problematic:

Cont. reading: Italy - The Beginning of the End of the European Union - by Debs is Dead

Posted by b at 06:42 AM | Comments (134)

Syria - Israel Falsely Claims Iran Pull-Back Deal With Russia - Again

Israel loves to pretend that it is an important country which can move other governments to do its bidding.

During last fall, when Russia, Jordan and the U.S. negotiated about a de-escalation zone in southwest Syria, Israel demanded to exclude Iranian troops  and militia supported by Iran from a 40 or even 60 kilometer zone from the occupied Golan heights. Later Israel media announced success: Russia agrees to keep Iran, Hezbollah forces away from Israeli border wrote JPost in October.

But such an agreement was only rumored by Israel. It was never made. Israel had demanded an exclusion zone but neither Syria nor Iran accepted that. The Russian/U.S./Jordan agreement was not published but it obviously included no such clause. In November 2017 Hizbullah successfully fought Syrian "rebels" in the Beit Jinn pocket, a stone throw from the Golan Heights. Iranian advisers have regularly visited and advised Iranian paid pro-government militia, marked green on the map, near the Golan line.


full size with full legend

Now Israel tries the same trick again. It sets expectations and announces agreements where none exist.

Cont. reading: Syria - Israel Falsely Claims Iran Pull-Back Deal With Russia - Again

Posted by b at 05:48 AM | Comments (43)

May 27, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - ISIS and U.S./Saudi Weapons - Open Thread 2018-26

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

U.S. Secretary of State Pomous Maximus laid out 12 demands towards Iran. Ayatollah Khamenei responded with 6 demands to the Europeans.

How the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the Zionists bought the White House.

Since the Central Bank intervention on Wednesday the Lira stopped its scary drop. I expect it to resume soon.

With their flurry of action the Korean President Moon and Chairman Kim are running circles around the Trump team. This is not the "maximum pressure" on North Korea U.S. president Trump envisioned.


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Please drop us a dime or two or more.

Here are two more items for you to read:

Hersh describes for Harpers how his classic shoe leather reporting dug up the evidence. A quite amusing read.

CAR with detail data on who supplied ISIS with weapons and ammunition. Unsurprising for those who read here it finds:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - ISIS and U.S./Saudi Weapons - Open Thread 2018-26

Posted by b at 11:54 AM | Comments (89)

May 26, 2018

Syria - U.S. Moves To Protect Al-Qaeda And ISIS in Daraa

The Syrian government and its Russian ally plan to clean up the southwest region of Syria around the city of Daraa. The move should open the M5 highway, Syria's lifeline, between Damascus and Jordan and secure the border with Jordan as well as the demarcation line with the Israel occupied Golan Heights.

The operation was supposed to start in a day or two, but the U.S. has now threatened to intervene. As the southwest Daraa governorate is infested with a large Islamic State (ISIS) group as well as al-Qaeda and associated groups the U.S.move must be interpreted as protection for these terrorists.


On July 7 2017 The U.S, Russia and Jordan agreed to set up a de-escalation zone in southwest Syria. The parameters were not publicized and the implementation lagged. Russia had offered to let its military police supervise the zone but the U.S. rejected that. The opening of the important M5 highway to Jordan which was originally part of the plan did likewise not happen. The ceasefire in the region was broken several times. There was also infighting between ISIS and al-Qaeda.

In November 2017 the presidents of the United States and Russia met and agreed to a Memorandum of Principals which covered southwest Syria. The memorandum was not published.

The neo-conservatives at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) disliked the agreement. It headlined Southern Syria Deal Fails to Constrain Iran, al Qaeda. Israel had demanded that no groups associated with Iran should come near the zone, but no such rule was agreed upon. ISW also noted:

Al Qaeda has exploited the ‘de-escalation zone’ to develop a new durable safe haven along the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Neither al-Qaeda nor the Islamic State are covered by the de-escalation and ceasefire agreement. UN Security Council resolutions 2249 and 2254 demand that all UN members fight Al Qaeda, ISIS and individuals and groups associate with them. It calls upon UN member states "to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Syria".

At that time ISW published a map of southwest Syria which shows the strategic positions taken by ISIS (grey), al-Qaeda (brown) and aligned groups (light brown):


full size with full legend

In December 2017 the U.S. stopped payments to "rebels" in the south west. Some of the groups, including al-Qaeda, receive money, weapons and fire support from Israel.

In April 2018 ISW published a new version of its map of the area. Amusingly al-Qaeda had vanished from it:

Cont. reading: Syria - U.S. Moves To Protect Al-Qaeda And ISIS in Daraa

Posted by b at 03:14 PM | Comments (103)

May 25, 2018

On Sources And Information - The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights (SOHR) claims to be a one person shop in Coventry, Britain. But that is only the front story. It is part of a larger organization and the intelligence infrastructure used to wage war on Syria.

A few commentators have recently criticized that I used SOHR as a source in some of my pieces. Here is why.

SOHR is not a pure propaganda operation like the White Helmets are. It is relatively truthful in its reporting of events and casualties in Syria. The total casualty count of the war SOHR gives is likely too high due to some estimates it uses in its bottom numbers. But an early check of its detailed accounts showed that its reports from incidents on the ground were mostly correct.

SOHR's numbers have been quoted by about every news outlet in the world, usually in pro-rebel propaganda pieces. But it is not the observatory that turns the information it collects into propaganda. The media do that when they quote SOHR without the necessary caveats or when they disregard it where its information contradicts the official story. The examples below show that this is now often the case.

One of the first descriptions of the one man who allegedly runs SOHR is in a Reuters portrait from late 2011:

Cont. reading: On Sources And Information - The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Posted by b at 04:20 PM | Comments (43)

May 24, 2018

How John Bolton Sabotaged The North Korea Talks

U.S. President Trump just canceled the planned summit with North Korea's chairman Kim Jong-Un. The two were supposed to meet on June 12 in Singapore. In a letter to Kim Jong-un, released to the media, Trump accused North Korea of hostile statements which, according to him, make the summit impossible:

Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I fell it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long planned meeting.

Since the very first summit talk National Security Advisor John Bolton set impossibly high expectations for the results. Trump fell for it.

The various 'hostile statements' go back to remarks by Bolton who has for some time compared disarmament of North Korea to Libya. On April 29 Bolton again asserted that the 'complete de-nuclearization' of North Korea would follow the 'Libya model'. North Korea never really offered to 'de-nuclearize'. It rejects the 'Libya model' for two reasons:

  • When Libya made peace with the U.S. it was not a nuclear capable state which North Korea is. North Korea demands to be seen as equal to other nuclear armed states.
  • Libya's transfer of the little nuclear production equipment it had was followed a few years later by a full fledged war waged by France, the U.K. and the U.S. against Libya and its government under Muhammad Ghaddafi. The war destroyed the country. North Korea has no intent to allow a repeat of such treason.

North Korea pushed back against the Bolton statement. On May 16 the White House made amends by not endorsing what Bolton said:

Referring to the Libya comparison, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that she hadn't "seen that as part of any discussions so I'm not aware that that's a model that we're using.

"I haven't seen that that's a specific thing. I know that that comment was made. There's not a cookie cutter model on how this would work."

But a day later Donald Trump was asked about the Libya comparison and he seemed to agree with it:

Cont. reading: How John Bolton Sabotaged The North Korea Talks

Posted by b at 11:59 AM | Comments (114)

British Hostage Video Of Yulia Skripal Released

Yesterday the British news agency Reuters published a hostage video and a statement of Yulia Skripal:

[Miss] Skripal was speaking from a secret location in London as she is under the protection of the British state. She was discharged from Salisbury District Hospital about five weeks after the poisoning and has not been seen by the media until now.

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We had earlier noted the Silence of the Skripals, the D(SMA)-notices issued by the British government to prevent deeper British media reporting on the case and the obvious disinformation peddled by British government sources. (All previous Moon of Alabama reports on the Skripal case are linked at the bottom of this piece.)

The British government claims that the 'former' British spy Sergej Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned by a deadly nerve agent of the Novichok group. According to British government leaks to the media the nerve agent was applied either through a suitcase, a box, flowers, spiked drinks or food, car vents, mini drones, a front door, cereal or a door handle in the form of a spray, gel or liquid. The British government loudly accused "Russia" of being responsible for poisoning of the Skripals but has not identified any individual who might have carried out such an attack.

In the new Reuters video Yulia Skripal gives a memorized and pressed monologue which declares that she does not want to be contacted by her cousin, grandmother, the Russian government or anyone else. The statement was pre-written in stilted, bureaucratic English language. On camera Yulia Skripal used a Russian version of the English text which she likely had not translated herself.

If this would have been a video and statement of a British citizen in 'protective custody' of the Russia state the British media and government would surely claim that these were made under duress.

Yulia Skripal looked well but for a scar on her throat which might be from an earlier trachea cut.


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Reuters published an additional report and video which also shows her signing a handwritten statement (pdf) with the same text she read on camera.

Cont. reading: British Hostage Video Of Yulia Skripal Released

Posted by b at 06:35 AM | Comments (99)

May 23, 2018

Turkey's Lira Troubles Threaten Erdogan's Rise To Full Power

In May 2016 Turkey elected a parliament dominated by the AK Party. At that time a prime minister and a cabinet were supposed to run the government while the Turkish president was supposed to be neutral. But Recep Tayyip Erdogan, AKP leader, former prime minister, then president was still the dominant figure and the government was practically chosen and run by him. Two months later a coup attempt against Erdogan failed. Since then Erdogan ruled by emergency decrees. More than 100,000 people were sacked or suspended and 50,000 arrested in an unprecedented crackdown. All independent media companies were taken over or eliminated.

A spring 2017 referendum, barely won, officially changed Turkey's executive into a presidential system. The government would no longer be elected by the parliament but picked by the president. The new system would come into full force by the next election in late 2019. The wannabe-Sultan Erdogan would thereby achieve near absolute power. 

In April 2018 Erdogan called for a snap election on June 24. He feared that a worsening economic downturn would otherwise diminish his chances to win. But the downturn has since accelerated. Today the Turkish currency fell rapidly and the presumed surety of Erdogan's reelection is now in doubt:

The Turkish lira has fallen more than 5% to hit a record low against the US dollar.

The currency has lost more than a fifth of its value this year as fears grow that the government might undermine the powers of Turkey's central bank.

Many investors want to see a rise in interest rates to bring down inflation, which is in double figures.

For consumers of foreign products in Turkey the effect of the currency drop is noticeable:


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Tourists to Turkey will like the move, the Turkish people not so much.

The Turkish government is blaming, as usual, foreign powers:

[Erdohgan's] deputy Bekir Bozdag has implied that foreign powers were to blame for the lira's collapse.

"The people have seen the game and the player, the people have seen the puppet and puppeteers. They will not allow them or give an opportunity," he said.

Two weeks ago Melkulangara Bhadrakumar, a former Indian diplomat, also opined that foreign powers were causing the downturn in Turkey:

Cont. reading: Turkey's Lira Troubles Threaten Erdogan's Rise To Full Power

Posted by b at 01:29 PM | Comments (71)

May 22, 2018

A Dive Into Washington's Swamp

One year ago Trump pledged allegiance to the Wahhabi Orb. The one Orb that rules them all:

This swearing of an oath to the Wahhabi death star was part of the opening of the potemkinesque "Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology" in Riyadh.
...
The Saudis arranged the whole theater to flatter Trump into fighting Iran for them. They hope to have bought Washington's obedience.

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The Saudi "anti-terrorism" effort was directed at its local rivals Qatar and Iran. Trump strongly supported the Saudi anti-Qatar campaign until the Pentagon finally told him that Qatar hosts the biggest U.S. air-base in the Middle East, which can not be moved at a moments notice.

Now an interesting AP story gives some backdrop to Trump's deference to Riyadh. It is the result of many bribes and lots of shady dealings. If or rather how Trump or his family profited from these is not yet known.

The princes, the president and the fortune seekers:

Cont. reading: A Dive Into Washington's Swamp

Posted by b at 09:26 AM | Comments (100)

May 21, 2018

Trump's New Campaign Against Iran Will Not Achieve Its Aims

The Trump administration made it perfectly clear today that it wants regime change in Iran by whatever means it has.

In a well promoted speech at the Heritage Foundation Secretary of State Pompeo laid out twelve demands towards Iran. He threatened the "strongest sanctions in history" if those demands were not fulfilled.

But the demands do not make sense. They only demonstrate the incompetence of the Trump administration. The means the Trump administration laid out to achieve its aims are not realistic and, even if they were implementable, insufficient to achieve the desired results.

Iran is asked to stop all uranium enrichment. Stopping enrichment is a no-go for Iran. The program has wide support in Iranian politics as it is seen as an attribute its sovereignty.

Pompeo demands that Iran closes its heavy water reactor. Iran can not close its heavy water reactor. It does not have one. The one it was building in Arak was disabled under the nuclear agreement (JCPOA). Concrete was poured into its core under supervision of IAEA inspectors. How can the Secretary of State of the United States make such a fact-free demand in a prepared speech?

Cont. reading: Trump's New Campaign Against Iran Will Not Achieve Its Aims

Posted by b at 02:21 PM | Comments (122)

May 20, 2018

The MoA Week In Review and Open Thread 2018-25

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Yesterday I planned to write about the FBI spy who tried to infiltrate the Trump campaign. But the Syria piece took longer than anticipated. Now Glenn Greenwald beat me to it:

    The FBI Informant Who Monitored the Trump Campaign, Stefan Halper, Oversaw a CIA Spying Operation in the 1980 Presidential Election

The Intercept should not have used "monitored". Prof. Stefan Halper, a man with deep CIA and MI6 connections, spied on the Trump campaign for the FBI. He wasn't an informant, he was an operator. Chuck Ross of the Daily Caller reported the story on March 25 and was the first to name Halper. Larouche Pub and the American Thinker also ran the story and expanded it further.

After the Daily Caller report came out the FBI tried to hide the name of its spy, telling Congress that revealing the name would endanger the man as well as other 'informants' and secret investigations. The main stream media played along and the anti-Trump 'resistance' feigned outrage that anyone would attempt to look into this. But the name was out there all along for everyone to see, as was the whole story.

Greenwald concludes:

Whatever else is true, the CIA operative and FBI informant used to gather information on the Trump campaign in the 2016 campaign has, for weeks, been falsely depicted as a sensitive intelligence asset rather than what he actually is: a long-time CIA operative with extensive links to the Bush family who was responsible for a dirty and likely illegal spying operation in the 1980 presidential election. For that reason, it’s easy to understand why many people in Washington were so desperate to conceal his identity, but that desperation had nothing to do with the lofty and noble concerns for national security they claimed were motivating them.

Amen.

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 11:22 AM | Comments (149)

May 19, 2018

Syria Sitrep - Liberating The M5 Highway, Syria's Economic Lifeline

In this situation report we look at the consolidation of the Syrian government space, discuss the upcoming operatitwelons to secure the vital M5 highway, clear up the S-300 confusion and provide a bit on the political developments.

Over the last twelve months the Syrian Arab Army and its allies made a lot of progress.


May 20 2017 - bigger

The government held area was extended to the Euphrates and the Syrian-Iraqi border. Deir Ezzor was liberated. The border to Lebanon was secured. All "rebel" enclaves within the government held areas (except the ISIS desert pocket) were consolidated.


May 19 2018 - bigger

Cont. reading: Syria Sitrep - Liberating The M5 Highway, Syria's Economic Lifeline

Posted by b at 01:58 PM | Comments (73)

May 18, 2018

Trump's Newest Threat To North Korea Makes A Deal Impossible

President Trump again derailed the negotiations with North Korea. It will be difficult to get them back on track. The attitude he showed  makes it unlikely that any deal will be made.

Tuesday night North Korea threatened to cancel the summit with U.S. President Trump. Remarks by U.S. National Security Advisor Bolton that the "Libya model" would be applied to North Korea were taken as insult.

Libya had bought some equipment that could be used to eventually start Uranium enrichment. But it never had a coordinated program to develop nuclear weapons nor did it have the industrial and academic base to pursue such a project. To get out of sanctions Libya gave up the little material it had. All was shipped to the U.S. before the sanctions were lifted. Bolton probably referred to only that part of the "Libya model".

But there is also the other part. A few years after Libya had given up its minuscule nuclear stuff France, the United Kingdom and the U.S. (FUKUS) waged a regime change war against it. With U.S. help Muhammad Ghaddafi was murdered by radical Islamists and Hillary Clinton even joked (vid) about it. Libya has since devolved into total chaos and a multi-sided tribal war with continued foreign meddling.

North Korea naturally rejects both parts of the Libya model. It sees itself -quite rightly- as a full fledged nuclear state. It demands negotiations on an equal base.

On Wednesday, after the North Korean threat to cancel the summit, the White House spokesperson pulled back on Bolton's "Libya model":

Cont. reading: Trump's Newest Threat To North Korea Makes A Deal Impossible

Posted by b at 04:10 PM | Comments (99)

Afghanistan - U.S. Military Finds No Fault With Special Forces' Potential Drive-By Murder

On January 9 we wrote about a video some U.S. special force veteran had posted online to promote his tactical clothing brand. The U.S. military launched an investigation into the issue and has now announced its conclusion. Here are the first graphs of the original Moon of Alabama report:

Afghanistan - U.S. Special Forces Commit Drive-By Murder (Video):
A recent video mashup provided by some U.S. Special Force soldiers in Afghanistan seems to show evidence of a warcrime.

A military truck passes a civilian truck on a paved road at normal traveling speed. A soldier fires directly and intentionally at the driver of the civilian truck without any discernible reason.

This is the relevant two second long cut (repeated 5 times) from a private video mix of scenes taken during the last few months in Afghanistan.

The reporting on the video was taken up by several mainstream news sites. The U.S. military in Afghanistan launched an investigation into the incident. Stars & Stripes, a newspaper for the U.S. military, now reports of the official result:

Cont. reading: Afghanistan - U.S. Military Finds No Fault With Special Forces' Potential Drive-By Murder

Posted by b at 07:58 AM | Comments (34)

May 17, 2018

Syria - Inconsistent, Incomplete And Implausible - The OPCW Report On Saraqib Is Another Disgrace

On February 4, two days before a UN Security Council meeting on chemical weapon issues, a Syrian army helicopter flew into Idelb governorate which is held by al-Qaeda. Escaping the quite effective air defenses of the terrorists it dropped two chlorine gas cylinders near a militarily irrelevant agricultural warehouse 40 kilometers away from the front line of the war. Eleven men of fighting age who are living in the al-Qaeda ruled territory were allegedly impacted by the released gas but none of them was seriously hurt.

The implausible story above is the base of a recent report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. All 'evidence' for the tale comes from organizations which tightly cooperated with al-Qaeda and other militant 'rebel' groups in Syria and are paid by 'western' governments opposed to Syria. The implausible story is repeated in the 'western' press without any journalistic skepticism.

The British Guardian writes:

The fact-finding mission by the OPCW on the Saraqeb attack determined that “chlorine was released from cylinders by mechanical impact on 4 February,” it said on Wednesday. The team’s conclusions were based on finding two cylinders that were determined as previously containing chlorine.
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The incident is by no means the worst chemical weapons attack during the seven-year civil war, but it led to 11 people being treated for breathing difficulties. Western observers said the use of helicopters in the attack suggested Syrian government involvement since the opposition did not have access to helicopters.

Saraqib in Idleb governorate has been in the hands of the Syrian 'opposition' since late 2012/early 2013. In April 2013 Syrian 'rebel' forces alleged that a chemical attack with Sarin took place in Saraqib. However only one person died, allegedly from of Sarin intoxication, while no Sarin traces were found on two other affected persons.

On February 4 2018 new claims were made of a 'chemical attack' in Saraqib. The war front line is far away from Saraqib. No military operation has taken place there for years. The 'chemical attack' allegations came (us usual) at a political convenient time:

Amnesty International has accused the Assad regime of showing “utter contempt” of international law following a chlorine gas attack on the town of Saraqib Sunday. This latest chemical attack comes just one day before the U.N. Security Council failed to agree on a U.S.-proposed statement Monday condemning the continued use of chemical weapons in the war-torn nation.

The Amnesty International report is solely based on anonymous 'witness testimony' from propaganda organizations financed by countries which oppose the Syrian government:

Cont. reading: Syria - Inconsistent, Incomplete And Implausible - The OPCW Report On Saraqib Is Another Disgrace

Posted by b at 03:29 PM | Comments (60)

May 16, 2018

North Korea May Cancel Summit Over Bolton's 'Absurd' Demands - Updated

Updated below
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The Trump administration thought it was an easy path in its negotiations with North Korea. Trump was euphoric when North Korea released three U.S. prisoners and proudly announced the June 12 summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore where North Korea would agree to give up all its nuclear weapons and nuclear development programs. Trump would get a Nobel peace prize and all would be well.

This was a serious miscalculation based on a lack of understanding. It misread each and every statement North Korea made. The Trump administration has no ambassador in South Korea, the most experienced North Korea expert at the State Department left in disgust. The National Security Council is run by a maniac who had sabotaged earlier agreements with North Korea and wants to do it again.

North Korea's overarching aim is to gain enough security to cut its military expenses and to then use its resources for economic development. The method to achieve peace with the U.S. was progress in its nuclear weapons program. Each time a milestone was reached in the nuclear field North Korea sought talks with South Korea and the United States. It offered some concessions - to stop or slow its progress in its development of nuclear warheads and missile - in exchange for a peace agreement and economic support. Each time a deal was made the U.S. did not stick to its commitment. The promised oil supplies were not delivered, the civilian nuclear reactors the U.S. promised were not build. Each time an agreement failed North Korea started the next phase of its nuclear weapons program up to the next milestone.

Last year it finally reached the apex. It tested a thermonuclear device, the ultimate destructive weapon. It launched an intercontinental missile that can carry such a bomb to the continental United States. North Korea is now a full fledged nuclear state. After this achievement North Korea was again ready to negotiate.

When Donald Trump came into office promising that he would not condone a nuclear weapon capable North Korea that could threaten the United States. He launched a "maximum pressure" campaign to take away North Korea's nuclear weapons. The UN security council put strong sanctions on North Korea.

North Korea was already ready to negotiate. It were not the sanctions that brought it to the table. It was its new status as a nuclear power. The Trump administration never understood that. It believed that its "maximum pressure" campaign brought North Korea to offer "complete denuclearization". North Korea used that wording but it was meant as an aspirational aim for the whole world, not a unilateral disarmament of its new capabilities.

The Trump administration did not get it - or did not want to get it. This was partly out of stupidity and lack of knowledge, it was partly mischievous:

Cont. reading: North Korea May Cancel Summit Over Bolton's 'Absurd' Demands - Updated

Posted by b at 07:18 AM | Comments (188)

May 14, 2018

Trump's Family Applauds Zionist Massacre Of Palestinians In Gaza

U.S. President Trump's family applauds Zionist massacre of Palestinians in Gaza:


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At some settler event in the capital of Palestine Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, mentioned today's Gaza massacre in which Israeli soldiers murdered at least 52 and maimed 1,200 unarmed Palestinians. He accused them of being the guilty ones because they protest  against the Zionist theft and occupation of their land:

"As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution."

The White House omitted that sentence in its official transcript. In its daily press briefing the White House called the murder committed by the Zionist army "a propaganda attempt" by Hamas and Palestinians.

In response to today's massacre South Africa recalled its ambassador from Israel. It is so far the only country which did so. South Africa knows apartheid and colonial violence. It no longer condones it.

Posted by b at 02:58 PM | Comments (203)

The 'Kingmaker' Is Back - Muqtada Al-Sadr Wins The Election In Iraq

On Saturday the people of Iraq voted for a new parliament.

The surprising winner is the Sairoon coalition of the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the Communist Party of Iraq. According to the preliminary results it gained 54 parliament seats. There are a total of 320 seats in the Iraqi parliament and complicate multiparty coalitions are necessary to gain a majority and to elect a new Prime Minister.

The Fatah Coalition headed by Hadi al-Amiri came in second with 47 seats. The Nasr coalition of the current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is third with 42 seats. The party of former premier Maliki is lagging behind with 25 seats.

Two, three or four of the larger blocks will have to find a coalition agreement that will also accommodate dozens of smaller parties with two or three parliament seats.

For outsiders Iraqi politics can be somewhat surprising. The female candidate of the Communist Party in the Shia holy city of Najaf, Suhad al-Khateeb, wears a Hijab. She is a scion of the Marjaiyya (religious establishment) family Saleem Adel. The Communist Party is allied with rabble rouser Moqtada al-Sadr. She won her parliament seat.


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Muntaza Al Zaidi (vid), the Iraqi journalist who in 2008 threw his shoes at George W. Bush (vid) also won a seat.

This was the first election after the war against ISIS in Iraq has been won. It was feared that ISIS underground cells would interrupt the election by attacking candidates or voting locales but nothing significant happened.

With only 44.5% of the people voting the participation was abysmal. The last elections had participation rates above 60%. One reason might have been the generic election campaigns of the establishment parties. They lacked arguments on issues and policies. Fortunately sectarianism played only a small role with some Shia candidates winning large shares of Sunni votes and vice versa.

The low participation rates favored those parties and personalities with a large direct following. These "whale parties" will now have to make further coalition deals. It is quite possible that Prime Minister Abadi, whose party lost significantly, will stay in his office and lead a new coalition government in which he has less say. Muqtada al-Sadr will be the one who decides that.

Cont. reading: The 'Kingmaker' Is Back - Muqtada Al-Sadr Wins The Election In Iraq

Posted by b at 10:39 AM | Comments (35)

May 13, 2018

The MoA Week In Review And Open Thread 2018-24

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

On this day in 1985 the police of Philadelphia engaged in a gun battle with members of the black radical group MOVE. After it had fired some 10,000 shots without much result the police built an improvised "barrel bomb" from military grade explosives and and dropped it from a helicopter onto the groups house. The bomb killed 5 adults and 6 children. The resulting fire destroyed 61 homes and made 250 people homeless.

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 01:50 PM | Comments (79)

John Bolton Once Sabotaged A Deal With North Korea - He Will Try To Repeat That Feat

The Washington Post published a half-truth story today about the U.S. occupied al-Tanf border station between Syria-and Iraq. Downplaying the possibility of military action around al-Tanf it inserts this strange nugget:

Mattis’s main focus of late has been preparing for possible conflict with North Korea.

Why is the Defense Secretary Mattis preparing for conflict with North Korea? Why is this his "main focus"? Ain't we all gonna have peace and love after Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un meet on June 12 in Singapore? No? Why am I not surprised?

I suspected all along that the whole theater between Trump and Kim Jong-un is a setup designed to fail. North Korea offers a phased denuclearization in exchange for a peace treaty and (partial?) U.S. withdrawal from South Korea. The U.S. is unlikely to accept that. For U.S. hawks nothing less than total capitulation is acceptable. But even if North Korea offers all its nukes at once the U.S. will demand more. It will likely ask for intrusive verification access to all North Korean military facilities and the like.  North Korea will surely reject such inspections as a danger to its defense capabilities and as a breach of its sovereignty. The Trump administration will spin that into a reason to heat up the conflict.

That would be a replay of the situation in 2008. Following the six-party-talks North Korea blew up (vid) the cooling tower of its sole reactor. It submitted information about its nuclear program as had been agreed. The U.S. did not fulfill its part of the deal, taking North Korea off the "terrorist supporter" list, but demanded additional verification access. That ended the deal.

From a forensic report at that time:

Cont. reading: John Bolton Once Sabotaged A Deal With North Korea - He Will Try To Repeat That Feat

Posted by b at 01:38 PM | Comments (75)

May 12, 2018

Countdown To War On Iran

John Bolton is a ruthless man:

In early 2002, a year before the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration was putting intense pressure on [José] Bustani to quit as director-general of the [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons].
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Bolton — then serving as under secretary of state for Arms Control and International Security Affairs — arrived in person at the OPCW headquarters in the Hague to issue a warning to the organization’s chief. And, according to Bustani, Bolton didn’t mince words. “Cheney wants you out,” Bustani recalled Bolton saying, referring to the then-vice president of the United States. “We can’t accept your management style.”

Bolton continued, according to Bustani’s recollections: “You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don’t comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you.”

There was a pause.

“We know where your kids live. You have two sons in New York.”

José Bustani successfully negotiated to get OPCW inspectors back into Iraq. They would have found nothing. That would have contradicted the U.S. propaganda campaign to wage war on Iraq. When Bustani did not leave voluntarily, the U.S. threatened to cut the OPCW's budget and "convinced" other countries in the executive council to kick him out.

John Bolton was also behind a campaign against the IAEA and its chief Mohamed ElBaradei. ElBaradei's phone was tapped and rumors were launched against him to oust him from his office.


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The U.S. administration, the neoconservatives and the media are running a remake (recommended) of the propaganda campaign they had launched to wage war on Iraq. This time the target is Iran:

As with Iraq, it’s easier for Bolton and Netanyahu to achieve that goal if they discredit the current system of international inspections. Bolton has called the inspection efforts established by the Iran nuclear deal “fatally inadequate” and declared that “the International Atomic Energy Agency” is “likely missing significant Iranian [nuclear] facilities.” In his 2015 speech to Congress attacking the Iran deal, Netanyahu insisted that “Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide-and-cheat with them.”

Anyone who counters their propaganda must go. Bolton, who demands to bomb Iran, is back in charge. One of his natural targets is the IAEA which certifies that Iran sticks to the nuclear deal. It seems that Bolton succeeds with his machinations:

Cont. reading: Countdown To War On Iran

Posted by b at 06:35 AM | Comments (179)

May 11, 2018

Open Thread 2018-23

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:33 PM | Comments (146)

May 10, 2018

Syria Sets New Rules For Israeli Strikes

When Trump killed the nuclear deal with Iran he gave Israel the chance to start a wider war with Syria. An earlier Israeli simulation of the situation had concluded:

The crisis created by the administration regarding the flaws of the nuclear agreement could be exploited to promote issues more urgent for Israel (mainly Iran’s missile program and presence in Syria).

The Israeli government claims that Iranian support for Syria is a threat to its country. That is a bogus claim. The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahoo uses the "Iran threat" as boogeyman to divert attention from other issues like the various corruption cases against himself.

Over the last years Israel attacked Syrian army positions more than 100 times, often in support of al-Qaeda aligned "Syrian rebels". Syria did not respond as it was busy fighting against the Takfiri invasion within the country. In April Israel upped the ante when it attacked the T4 base in the middle of Syria from where Russian and Iranian forces support Syria's fight against ISIS. Iranian soldiers were killed in the attack. The Syrian air defense shot down at least one of the attacking Israeli F-16 jets. This shooting down of the Israeli jets was thought to have established a new balance, but Israel continued to provoke.

On Tuesday, just as Trump announced his breaking of the nuclear deal, Israel launched another strike on what it claimed were Iranian missiles in Syria targeted at Israel. The strike hit a Syrian army depot. Fifteen soldiers, some of them allegedly Iranians, were killed. Even the Israeli media had trouble to find an excuse for the illegal 'preemptive' attack:

Cont. reading: Syria Sets New Rules For Israeli Strikes

Posted by b at 07:41 AM | Comments (254)

May 09, 2018

Blumenthal, Norton, Khalek - The Turncoats Deliver A Poor Excuse - by Daniel

by Daniel
lifted from a comment

I see b’s Twitter linked to the "Moderate Rebels" discussion of Blumenthal / Norton / Khalek. I hope y’all don’t mind my posting the below. I originally wrote it as an "open letter" to the above triumvirate, but changed pronouns for this audience.

Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton and Rania Khalek talk about their late “evolution” on the war against Syria in this episode of “Moderate Rebels.”

For those who don’t know, each was pro-"opposition", anti-Syrian government for years, but changed positions sometime in around 2016.

I'm glad to hear Max finally directly address his anti-Syrian stance from 2011 to 2016. He acknowledges that Sharmine Narwani was correct all along. It would be nice to hear him actually apologize to Sharmine and other journalists he disparaged, but especially to the Syrian people who sure could have used the support of a well known Arab/Palestinian Rights advocate with a large audience and influence.

Yes, Max "didn’t take a serious look at what was actually going on" in Syria. And didn't for five more years. He began writing for Al Akhbar in Lebanon in July, 2011. As a journalist, he was obligated to inform himself about what was happening before writing about it. Syrian police and military had already been massacred by then. Post office workers had been thrown to their deaths from the roof because they were "government supporters." The violence of the "protesters" was even being reported in Israeli newspapers.

He says he "didn’t think it was going to become, you know, the 7-year devastating conflict that it became." That is apparent. Libya was already descending into the F-UK-US “Mission Accomplished” with NATO bombers warming up to finish the job. Perhaps Max’s dad had assured him that Syria would follow the same pattern his emails with Hillary Clinton show he had helped plan and define in Libya.

BTW: Has he ever addressed his father's role in the destruction of the once most prosperous country on the African continent? I haven't read or heard anything from Max on Syd Blumenthal's pre-Qaddafi "removal" explanation that Libya had to be destroyed to:

  1. Steal their nationalized oil.
  2. Confiscate the hundreds of tons of gold and silver Libya held.
  3. Prevent Libya from establishing a gold-backed currency and pan-African development bank to compete with the US petro-dollar and IMF, and lift Africa out of neo-colonial subservience.

Yeah. Max was "pretty quiet on Libya and not really - didn’t really make any coherent statements on that either."

That newspaper that Max publicly maligned and quit ("grandstanding" as he now says) "had taken an anti-imperialist agenda." Did that paper ever reject any articles Max wrote defending "the Syrian revolution"? I didn’t think so. Who had "an agenda"? Because it sure sounds like it was Max who was so focused on his new book release and two upcoming book tours that at the least he abandoned journalistic values. Or did he fear that "being associated" with a paper that also published articles critical of "the revolution" could hurt book sales?

After all, he thought it was all going to be over soon anyway.

It would also be nice for Max to explain why, once he changed his position on Syria after Russia had helped turn the tide, he, Ben and Rania scrubbed all their anti-Syrian/pro-"rebel" posts from the internet without explanation. How Orwellian.

Cont. reading: Blumenthal, Norton, Khalek - The Turncoats Deliver A Poor Excuse - by Daniel

Posted by b at 03:54 PM | Comments (127)

May 08, 2018

Trump Ends The Nuclear Deal With Iran - What's Next?

With a very belligerent speech Trump nixed the nuclear deal with Iran. He also lied a lot in it. Neither is a surprise. The United States only keeps agreements as long as they are to its short term advantage - just ask native Americans. One can never count on the U.S. to keep its word.

Trump will reimpose U.S. sanctions on Iran because:

  • The nuclear deal was negotiated by the Obama administration and thus must be bad;
  • Israel wants to keep Iran as the boogeyman;
  • the Zionists and right wing nuts in the U.S. want the U.S. to attack Iran;
  • MAGA - Trump needs Iran as enemy of the Gulf states to sell more U.S. weapons.

Three European countries, Britain, France and Germany, were naive enough to think they could prevent this. The EU3 offered the U.S. to put additional sanctions on Iran for other pretended reason - ballistic missiles and the Iranian engagement in Syria. I was disgusted when I first read of the plan. It was obvious from the beginning that it  would only discredit these countries AND fail.

Luckily Italy and some eastern European countries shot the effort down at the EU level. They were not willing to sacrifice their credibility over the issue. The nuclear agreement was signed and should be followed by all sides. They pointed out that there was no guarantee from Trump that any additional European effort would change his view.

Over the last weeks some last EU3 attempts to influence Trump were made. They were in vain:

On Friday, Pompeo organized a conference call with his three European counterparts. Sources who were briefed on the call told me Pompeo thanked the E3 for the efforts they had made since January to come up with a formula that will convince Trump not to pull out of the nuclear deal — but made it clear the President wants to take a different direction.
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After Trump's statement, the European powers want to issue a joint statement which will make it clear they are staying in the Iran deal in an attempt to prevent its collapse.

The sanctions Trump will reintroduce are not just limiting U.S. dealings with Iran, but will also penalize other countries. That will lead to a flurry of protective measures as at least some of those other countries will limit their exposure to U.S. rules and may even introduce counter sanctions:

“We are working on plans to protect the interests of European companies” Maja Kocijancic, EU spokeswoman for foreign affairs, told reporters in Brussel.

Iran will largely stick to the nuclear deal if the EU effectively defends it and does not hinder Iranian deals with European companies. If the EU fails to do so the nuclear agreement will be null and void. Iran will leave the deal. The neoliberal Rouhani government that agreed to the deal will fall and the conservatives will be back. They will defend Iran's sovereignty at all costs.

The U.S. seems to believe it can go back to the same position Obama had build up in the years before the nuclear deal. Iran was under UN sanctions and all countries, including China and Russia, held them up. The Iranian economy was in serious trouble. It needed to negotiate a way out. That situation will not come back.

U.S. credibility has been seriously damaged. Its soft power is gone. Its hard power has shown to be inadequate in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

China and Russia are both making huge deals with Iran and are now effectively its protectors. While they have no common ideology all three oppose a globalized world under exclusive "western" rules. They have the economic power, the population and resources to do so. Neither the U.S. nor Europe has come to terms with that.

Iran has not only new allies but gained in the Middle East because of U.S., Israeli and Saudi stupidity. The wars on Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen have all strengthened Iran's position while it largely kept largely out of them. The recent election in Lebanon went well for the 'resistance' camp. Within Lebanon Hizbullah can no longer be challenged. The upcoming elections in Iraq will result in another Iran-friendly government. The Syrian army is winning the war waged against the country. The U.S. position in Afghanistan is hopeless. Saudi Arabia is now in a fight with the UAE over the war on Yemen. The GCC spat with Qatar is still unsolved.

While Israel wants to keep Iran as a boogeyman to divert attention from its genocidal campaign against Palestinians, it does not want a large war. Hizbullah in Lebanon has enough missiles to make modern life in Israel untenable. A war on Iran could easily end up with Tel Aviv in flames.

There are some people in the Trump administration who will want to wage war on Iran. The Bush administration also had such plans. But any war gaming of a campaign against Iran ended badly for the U.S. and its allied states. The Gulf countries are extremely vulnerable. Their oil output could be shut down within days. That situation has not changed. The U.S. is now in a worse strategic position than it was after the invasion of Iraq. As long as somewhat sane people lead the Pentagon they will urge the White House not to launch such an endeavor.

The U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal is a huge mistake. Defense Secretary Mattis spoke against it. Will Trump make an even bigger mistake despite the opinion of his military advisors? Will he wage war on Iran?

Posted by b at 02:21 PM | Comments (309)

May 07, 2018

'Black Cube' First Denies, Then Obfuscates, Then Admits Spying On Iran Deal Negotiators

Yesterday we published a piece about "Black Cube", an Israeli spy company with deep state relations. The piece was updated earlier today.

Black Cube used false identities to trick two former members of the Obama administration, Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, as well as the pro-Iran lobbyist Trita Parsi, to find out if they had profited from the nuclear deal (JCPOA) with Iran. The Observer, which broke the story without naming Black Cube, reported that people related to the Trump administration had hired the company to get information that could help Trump to dump the nuclear deal with Iran.

Now the company is in panic and tries to cover its trail.

It is why we got mail:


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Referring to the Moon of Alabama piece Black Cube writes:

"Please add our full comment ASAP! It causes us damage and it's defamation without our full denial."

I have cut their "full comment" from the above pictured email. I see absolutely no reason to publish their lying "comments" and denials.

How do I know that Black Cube lies?

Cont. reading: 'Black Cube' First Denies, Then Obfuscates, Then Admits Spying On Iran Deal Negotiators

Posted by b at 03:28 PM | Comments (60)

May 06, 2018

The MoA Week In Review And Open Thread 2018-22

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Netanyahoo presses for the end of nuclear deal (JCPOA) with Iran. But that is only step one. He wants the U.S. to destroy Iran. First its forces in Syria, then the Islamic Republic itself. Amos Harel: Israel Hopes Trump Scrapping Nuclear Deal Could Ultimately Lead to Iran Regime Change. Some Israeli thinkers are waking up to the danger of such nonsense: Former Israeli General: U.S. Exit From Nuclear Deal Would Help Iran. But it is too late. Trump will dump the JCPOA deal. From there on we will be on very uncertain territory. Patrick Cockburn remarks: It’s not clear if Trump and Netanyahu want a war with Iran – but they may fall into one all the same. Lee Camp points out that Iran recently ended doing business in U.S. dollars. He points to other cases where such a decision had serious consequences: I Know Which Country the U.S. Will Invade Next. The Saker walks us through a possible war on Iran scenario: The Warmakers.

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 12:18 PM | Comments (104)

Trump Circles Hired Israeli Spy Company 'Black Cube' To Dig Up Dirt on Iran Deal Negotiators

Updated below

Someone tipped off the Observer, the Guardian's Sunday edition, about an attempt of Donald Trump flunkies to find dirt about the people who negotiated the nuclear deal (JCPOA) with Iran. An Israeli spy company was hired to set up traps. One of the victims describes how that happened. The modus operandi seems similar to one described in another dirty story which surfaced about a year ago. The company, not named by the Observer, in question is Black Cube.


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The Observer: Revealed: Trump team hired spy firm for ‘dirty ops’ on Iran arms deal

Aides to Donald Trump, the US president, hired an Israeli private intelligence agency to orchestrate a “dirty ops” campaign against key individuals from the Obama administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal, the Observer can reveal.

People in the Trump camp contacted private investigators in May last year to “get dirt” on Ben Rhodes, who had been one of Barack Obama’s top national security advisers, and Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to Obama, as part of an elaborate attempt to discredit the deal.
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Sources said that officials linked to Trump’s team contacted investigators days after Trump visited Tel Aviv a year ago, his first foreign tour as US president.
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Cont. reading: Trump Circles Hired Israeli Spy Company 'Black Cube' To Dig Up Dirt on Iran Deal Negotiators

Posted by b at 10:33 AM | Comments (63)

May 05, 2018

The Historic Background of China's Perception of the West - by Carl Zha

Carl Zha publishes the Clash of civilizations and empires podcast.

This illustrated history was originally tweeted yesterday, May 4th 2018. It is slightly edited and republished here with the author's permission.

 

How the West’s betrayal of China in Versailles after World War I led to the long Chinese Revolution that shaped today's Chinese perception of the West


(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

99 years ago, on May 4th 1919, the original Tiananmen student protest broke out. The students protested the Allied Powers' betrayal at Versailles: The German Shangdong colony was given to Japan instead of returning it to China. This despite China's sending of 140,000 men to work on the Western front.

 

Cont. reading: The Historic Background of China's Perception of the West - by Carl Zha

Posted by b at 01:39 PM | Comments (103)

May 04, 2018

Media Use Disinformation To Accuse Russia Of Spreading Such

The Grauniad is slipping deeper into the disinformation business: Revealed: UK’s push to strengthen anti-Russia alliance is the headline of a page one piece which reveals exactly nothing. There is no secret lifted and no one was discomforted by a questioning journalist. 

Like other such pieces it uses disinformation to accuse Russia of spreading such.

The main 'revelation' is stenographed from a British government official. Some quotes from the usual anti-Russian propagandists were added. Dubious or false 'western' government claims are held up as truth. That Russia does not endorse them is proof for Russian mischievousness and its 'disinformation'.

The opener:

The UK will use a series of international summits this year to call for a comprehensive strategy to combat Russian disinformation and urge a rethink over traditional diplomatic dialogue with Moscow, following the Kremlin’s aggressive campaign of denials over the use of chemical weapons in the UK and Syria.
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“The foreign secretary regards Russia’s response to Douma and Salisbury as a turning point and thinks there is international support to do more,” a Whitehall official said. “The areas the UK are most likely to pursue are countering Russian disinformation and finding a mechanism to enforce accountability for the use of chemical weapons.”

There is a mechanism to enforce accountability for the use of chemical weapons. It is the Chemical Weapon Convention and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). It was the British government which at first rejected the use of these instruments during the Skripal incident:

Early involvement of the OPCW, as demanded by Russia, was resisted by the British government. Only on March 14, ten days after the incident happened and two days after Prime Minister Theresa may had made accusations against Russia, did the British government invite the OPCW. Only on March 19, 15 days after the incident happen did the OPCW technical team arrive and took blood samples.

Now back to the Guardian disinformation:

In making its case to foreign ministries, the UK is arguing that Russian denials over Salisbury and Douma reveal a state uninterested in cooperating to reach a common understanding of the truth, but instead using both episodes to try systematically to divide western electorates and sow doubt.

A 'common understanding of the truth' is an interesting term. What is the truth? Whatever the British government claims? It accused Russia of the Skripal incident a mere eight days after it happened. Now, two month later, it admits that it does not know who poisoned the Skripals:

Cont. reading: Media Use Disinformation To Accuse Russia Of Spreading Such

Posted by b at 02:22 PM | Comments (147)

May 03, 2018

Yemen - Massacres and Assassinations Trigger a New Phase of War

In mid April some 20+ of Sudanese soldiers were killed in an ambush in northern Yemen. Sudan, which sent up to 10,000 soldiers to Yemen in hope of Saudi money, is reconsidering its engagement. The Gulf states had promised investments in Sudan and the lifting of U.S. sanction in exchange for sending cannon fodder. Neither happened.

The war Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the powers behind them wage on Yemen aims to install a proxy-government that defers to them. The Yemeni people do not want that. They resist against the overwhelming forces of their rich neighbors. Especially the Zaidi people of north Yemen dislike their proselytizing Wahhabi neighbors. Their Houthi movement leads the fight. Yemeni in general regard them as 'monkeys with laptops'.  To overcome the resistance the Saudi launched a genocidal campaign of blockading, bombing and starving the people into submission.

The same week the Sudanese mercenaries were killed, airstrikes by Saudi jets slaughtered dozens of Yemeni civilians:

An airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a wedding party in northern Yemen, killing at least 20 people including the bride, health officials said Monday, as harrowing images emerged on social media of the deadly bombing, the third to hit Yemeni civilians since the weekend.
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An airstrike on Sunday night hit a house elsewhere in Hajja, killing an entire family of five, according to al-Nadhri.

On Saturday, at least 20 civilians were killed when coalition fighter jets bombed a bus carrying commuters in western Yemen, near the city of Taiz, which has been locked in fighting for three years.

After the bombing of the wedding one boy, 3 to 5 years old, clutched to his dead father all night (video) and rejected attempts to be taken away. A graphic video taken the next morning shows that the boy is still there and the terrible aftermath of the Saudi massacre. The Onion only slightly exaggerates when it writes that the Saudi clown prince visited the child to finish the job.

The standard agency reports from Yemen, like the above one, always repeat the UN estimate that more than 10,000 have died in the war. But that UN number is at least two years old, never changes and only hides the ongoing massacre:

Cont. reading: Yemen - Massacres and Assassinations Trigger a New Phase of War

Posted by b at 02:32 PM | Comments (101)

May 01, 2018

Netanyahoo's "Iran Files" are Well Known, Old and Purloined from Vienna

The dog and pony show the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahoo provided yesterday (video, slideshow) was not based on material Israeli secret services acquired in Iran, but most likely from data Iran provided to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) during the implementation period of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, pdf).

Ali Vaez, director of the Iran Project at the Crisis Group, was the first to propose this thesis:

Ali Vaez @AliVaez - 18:06 UTC - 30 Apr 2018
5/ It appears to me that what Israel has done is that it has probably hacked the @iaeaorg and gathered some new details from what Iran responded to the agency to close the outstanding issues in 2015: IAEA Board Adopts Landmark Resolution on Iran PMD Case

Several nuclear proliferation experts point out that there was nothing new in Netanyahoo's presentation:

Jeffrey Lewis @ArmsControlWonk - 00:14 UTC- 1 May 2018
Let's go through Netanyahu's dog-and-pony show. As you will see, everything he said was already known to the IAEA and published in IAEA GOV/2015/68 (2015). There is literally nothing new here and nothing that changes the wisdom of the JCPOA. 1/10

All the graphics, pictures and technical details Netanyahoo quoted were known to the IAEA and the negotiators of the agreement with Iran.

The tale the Israelis provide to explain  how they got access to the files does not fit to the content of the "highly theatrical" presentation:

The senior Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a secret mission, said that Israel’s Mossad intelligence service discovered the warehouse in February 2016, and had the building under surveillance since then.
Mossad operatives broke into the building one night last January, removed the original documents and smuggled them back to Israel the same night, the official said.

Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, a political scientist at Columbia University, points to this slide and satellite picture in Netanyahoo's presentation:


bigger

The pictured slide claims that Iran moved files to that location in 2017. But the Israeli sources tell the NYT that the Mossad detected the warehouse in early 2016. Why, if no nuclear files were there at that time, did the Mossad put a random warehouse in Tehran under observation?

Most likely both claims are false.

Cont. reading: Netanyahoo's "Iran Files" are Well Known, Old and Purloined from Vienna

Posted by b at 12:26 PM | Comments (232)

April 30, 2018

Netanyahoo To Again Cry Wolf - But Something Bigger Is Up (Updated)

Updated below
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U.S. President Trump wants to end the nuclear agreement (pdf) with Iran and wants to eliminated Iranian forces in Syria which support the Syrian government. Something is being prepared to make that happen.

Last week General Joseph Votel, commander of CENTCOM - the U.S. military command for the Middle East, was in Israel. It was the first ever visit of a CENTCOM commander to Israel which usually works with the European command EUCOM.

Yesterday former CIA director and now Secretary of State Pompeo visited Israel. A few hours later Israel bombed two ammunition depots in Syria which are supposedly related to Iran. This was a clear attempt to provoke Iran into some reaction.

The Israeli defense minister Lieberman just visited Washington DC and only today came back to Israel.

Now the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahoo loudly announced that he will hold a press conference to present a "huge amount of new and dramatic information on the Iranian nuclear program". He will allege that Iran cheats on the nuclear agreement (JCPOA).

Netanyahoo is a notorious liar and warmonger. In September 2002 he lied (vid) to the U.S. congress:

There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and is working and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons – no question whatsoever”

Only yesterday he promoted a false story that claimed Arabs in Israel had disrupted a minuted of silence for some people killed in a flash flood.

The IAEA says that Iran is in full compliance with the JCPOA. If there were any serious intelligence about any Iranian deviation from the nuclear agreement it would be presented to the IAEA and the six signature powers of the agreement. The IAEA would investigate and report back. If Iran cheated it would be put back under serious international sanctions. That Netanyahoo wants to present something publicly makes it very likely that he has nothing of relevance.

We hear that the documents he is said to present were compiled by one Christopher Steele and assembled with the help of one Sergej Skripal and his MI6 handler [redacted]. They will show that Iran attempts to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger ;)

Cont. reading: Netanyahoo To Again Cry Wolf - But Something Bigger Is Up (Updated)

Posted by b at 01:06 PM | Comments (197)

April 29, 2018

The MoA Week In Review And Open Thread 2018-21

A short MoA week as I was 'under the weather' and mentally too deficient to write something sensible.

The New York Times is miffed that the talks between the two Koreas make war less possible:

The talk of peace is likely to weaken the two levers that Mr. Trump used to pressure Mr. Kim to come to the bargaining table. A resumption of regular diplomatic exchanges between the two Koreas, analysts said, will inevitably erode the crippling economic sanctions against the North, while Mr. Trump will find it hard to threaten military action against a country that is extending an olive branch.

We do not get D-Notices and will continue to tackle this issue.

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 01:50 PM | Comments (103)

Syria Sitrep - Turkey's War In Idleb

The Syrian government issued Property Law 10 (ar) which will help to rebuild the country. Martin Chulov of the Guardian falsely reported: 10m Syrians at risk of forfeiting homes under new property law. The Syrian-American economist Ehsani explains why the Guardian report is wrong. He summarizes:

Without legislation, imagine people returning to say Jobar in Damascus or Bustan al-Basha in Aleppo and starting to build on their own. What code? What property lines? What legal basis? What about the infrastructure underneath? Law 10 is the State's legislative blueprint.

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In 2012 UN blue helmets from Austria  controlled the demarcation line with Israel at the Golan heights. They watched as Takfiris ('smugglers'), likely coming from Israel, set up an ambush. Nine Syrian border policemen pass through the UN checkpoint but are not warned. They drive into the Takfiri ambush. All are killed. An Austrian whistle-blower gave the video (ger) to a local paper in Vienna. The Austrian Defense Ministry is investigating the case.

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Today tribal forces aligned with the Syrian government attacked and captured two villages (map) controlled by the U.S. proxy force in east Syria north of the Euphrates near Deir Ezzor city. The Kurdish U.S. proxy forces SDF vowed revenge. This might be a local incident but could develop into something bigger. While the U.S. claims exclusive rights north of the Euphrates and to fight ISIS in the area zero progress has been made since November. The U.S. wants keep ISIS alive and well to later reuse it for its own purposes. The Syrian government is trying to disrupt that plan.

The Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk, a southern suburb of Damascus, is held by ISIS and some other Takfiri groups.The Syrian army surrounded it and is attacking it with full force. Today all groups but ISIS agreed to either leave Yarmouk to Idelb (Jaish al-Islam) or Daraa (Jaish Ababil Huran) or to reconcile with the Syrian government. ISIS plans to fight to death in the densely upbuild area. Only few civilians are left and the Syrian army will not risk high casualties for the otherwise empty city. The ISIS fighters will be bombed and shelled to smithereens.

While one part of the Syrian army is eliminating ISIS in Yarmouk another part has moved north towards Homs and might go further up to Idleb.

Meanwhile the Turks are trying to tackle the al-Qaeda (aka Jabhat al-Nusra aka Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) problem in Idelb province. Erdogan's long term plan is to annex Idleb governorate for Turkey. But as long as al-Qaeda controls the governorate and city Turkey can not claim that the 'de-escalation zone' is off-limits for Syrian government attacks. It needs to hide or eliminate al-Qaeda and any other group that can be painted as 'terrorist'.

Cont. reading: Syria Sitrep - Turkey's War In Idleb

Posted by b at 01:21 PM | Comments (16)

April 28, 2018

The Silence Of The Skripals - Government Blocks Press Reports - Media Change The Record

There has been no recent reporting on the Skripal case in which a British-Russian double agent and his daughter were poisoned in Salisbury, England. There even seem to be attempts to change the public record of the case.

The British government alleged that the Skripals were poisoned by Novichok, a deadly nerve agent, and blamed Russia for it. There are stiill many open questions to ask but the British media, otherwise not afraid of 'door stepping',  are curiously uninterested. We already noted in early April that the British press was throwing Novi-Fog™ onto the public. It was repeating outrageous and illogical claims from "security services" but did no genuine reporting on the Skripal case.

Some photo editor made sense of what the "security services" said and introduced an April 5 London Times piece with a picture of a likely source of the alleged Novichok poison:


via D'Aramitz - bigger

Now the former British ambassador Craig Murray quotes Clive Ponting, another former senior civil servant, who suspects that the British government issued a D-Notice. Such a notice forbids British media to report on an issue. Murray also points to a tweet by Channel 4 correspondent Alex Thomson from March 12 in which Thomsen mentions a D-Notice specifically related to Mr. Skripal's MI6 handler:

Cont. reading: The Silence Of The Skripals - Government Blocks Press Reports - Media Change The Record

Posted by b at 02:18 PM | Comments (137)

April 27, 2018

A Most Hopeful Korean Summit With Little Chance Of Final Success

At widely observed meeting today the leaders of North and South Korea took a step towards a peace agreement and maybe even a reunion of the partitioned country.


bigger

We have been here before:

Leaders of North and South Korea signed a treaty of reconciliation and nonaggression this morning, renouncing armed force against each other and saying that they would formally bring the Korean War to an end ...
...
Officials on both sides described the accord as the first step toward what they term the inevitable reunification of the Korean peninsula, but they conceded that it failed to deal with some of the most potentially dangerous issues dividing North and South, including Pyongyang's race to develop an arsenal of nuclear weapons.
KOREAS SIGN PACT RENOUNCING FORCE IN A STEP TO UNITY
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With surprising speed and warmth, the presidents of North and South Korea reached a broad agreement on Wednesday to work for peace and unity on their bitterly divided peninsula, the biggest step by either side to ease tensions in 50 years.
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The general points agreed on included the need for reconciliation and unification; the establishment of peace; the commencement in August of exchange visits by members of divided families; and more cultural exchanges.
THE KOREAN BREAKTHROUGH: THE OVERVIEW; KOREAS REACH ACCORD SEEKING RECONCILIATION AFTER 50 YEARS
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Expectations for what could be achieved at the first summit meeting between the Koreas in seven years had been low. Worries that South Korea’s president  [...] would give away too much had been high.

But a declaration signed Thursday [...] contained a number of specific projects that could build closer economic and security ties between the Koreas, experts said. The North, in turn, appeared to have made some modest, though important, concessions to the South.
Korean Summit Results Exceed Low Expectations

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At a historic summit meeting, the first time a North Korean leader had ever set foot in the South, the leaders vowed to negotiate a peace treaty to replace a truce that has kept an uneasy peace on the divided Korean Peninsula for more than six decades, while ridding it of nuclear weapons. A peace treaty has been one of the incentives North Korea has demanded in return for bargaining away its nuclear weapons.
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Mr. Moon also offered some capitalistic carrots during the talks, reminding Mr. Kim that South Korea had in years past promised huge investments to help improve the North’s road and train systems. Those agreements eventually collapsed as the North persisted in developing nuclear weapons.
North and South Korea Set Bold Goals: A Final Peace and No Nuclear Arms

The pieces above were published in the New York Times on December 13 1991,  June 15 2000, October 5 2007 and  April 27 2018 respectively.

It is obvious from the above quotes that the enthusiasm over such a summit is not new. What makes this one special ?

Cont. reading: A Most Hopeful Korean Summit With Little Chance Of Final Success

Posted by b at 11:25 AM | Comments (98)

April 26, 2018

Open Thread 2018-20

News & views ...

Posted by b at 12:21 PM | Comments (149)

April 24, 2018

Syria-Iraq - U.S. Coddles ISIS - Others Plan For The Final Fight

OIR Spokesman Verified account @OIRSpox - 15:02 UTC - 24 Apr 2018

#Iraq's strike on a known Daesh HQ in Syria was planned/conducted by the Iraqi Security Forces, w/ support from @CJTFOIR. This strike shows Iraq's willingness to do what's necessary to secure its citizens as well as their important role in the Global @Coalition to #defeatDaesh

The above tweet by the spokesperson for the U.S. Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) against ISIS is extremely misleading if not false. The U.S. is trying to take some credit for a strike which was done without its consensus. The attack against ISIS was initiated by an anti-U.S. alliance as a warning against further U.S. shenanigans with ISIS.

The U.S. military in Syria has refrained from fighting ISIS for months. The map of the territory held by ISIS (grey) at the Syrian-Iraqi border in the U.S. controlled zone north of the Euphrates (yellow) has not changed since November 2017.


Livemap: Nov 30 2017, Apr 24 2018 - bigger, bigger

(The yellow corridor going south east towards Iraq on the map is misleading. The U.S. has no forces there and ISIS crossed it several times to attack Syrian forces (red) across the river.)

The British group Airwars documents the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. U.S. strikes on ISIS in Syria are down to one per day or less:

Cont. reading: Syria-Iraq - U.S. Coddles ISIS - Others Plan For The Final Fight

Posted by b at 03:36 PM | Comments (151)

April 22, 2018

The MoA Week In Review And Open Thread 2018-19

The U.S. is currently attempting Color Revolutions by Force in Nicaragua and Armenia. This form of 'regime change' uses the typical 'peaceful demonstrators' schemes and media push but adds an armed element that is supposed to shoot at both sides - the protesters as well as government forces - to create marketable victims and chaos. The war on Syria was started this way as was the war in Libya and the violent regime change in Ukraine.

Telesur TV has a good write up on the situation in Nicaragua. Earlier today a journalist was shot in Bluefields, Nicaragua, during live reporting, probably by the opposition which now accuses the government.

AFP has an overview of the conflict in Armenia. It is sympathetic to the 'western' sponsored opposition. Just an hour ago the opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan was arrested after a short talk with the Prime Minister. He demanded total surrender of the government. I expect that further demonstrations will be shut down.

Last week's posts on MoA:

Yesterday, a week after arriving in Damascus, the OPCW fact finding mission finally reached one of the sites and took some probes to be analyzed elsewhere. It will take several weeks before the results are in.

I reported that the ISIS Takfiris in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp had given up and were ready to be transported into the eastern desert. But, as happened before in Douma, some hardliners killed the lead negotiator of the Takfiris and the fighting resumed. Artillery fire and aerial bombing continued today. The Syrian army has now plenty of capacities and, unless they give up, will turn all the Takfiris into fertilizer without taking many losses.

The Bolivian actress Carla Ortiz is back from Syria where she produced a new documentary. Jimmy Dore interviews her (vid, 40 min) and shows some of her footage. It is excellent and I recommend it.

(This was the longest piece I have ever written for this site and, I believe, it is quite important. Please spread it.)

The war on dissenting opinions described therein continues with the Sunday Times smearing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn because one or two of the 2,444 people he follows on Twitter once wrote something the Sunday Times dislikes:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review And Open Thread 2018-19

Posted by b at 10:00 AM | Comments (190)

April 21, 2018

The Media War On Truthful Reporting And Legitimate Opinions - A Documentary

Early in life I have noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed. I saw troops who had fought bravely denounced as cowards and traitors, and others who had never seen a shot fired hailed as the heroes of imaginary victories; and I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened. I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what happened but of what ought to have happened according to various ‘party lines’.
George Orwell, Looking back on the Spanish War, Chapter 4

Last week saw an extreme intensifying of the warmongers' campaign against individuals who publicly hold and defend a different view than the powers-that-be want to promote. The campaign has a longer history but recently turned personal. It now endangers the life and livelihood of real people.


In fall 2016 a smear campaign was launched against 200 websites which did not confirm to NATO propaganda. Prominent sites like Naked Capitalism were among them as well as this site:

This website, MoonofAlabama.org, is now listed as "Russian propaganda outlet" by some neoconned, NATO aligned, anonymous "Friendly Neighborhood Propaganda Identification Serviceprominently promoted by today's Washington Post. The minions running that censorship list also watch over our "Russian propaganda" Twitter account @MoonofA.

While the ProPornOT campaign was against websites the next and larger attack was a general defaming of specific content.


The neoconservative Alliance For Securing Democracy declared that any doubt of the veracity of U.S. propaganda stories discussed on Twitter was part of a "Russian influence campaign". Their 'dashboard' shows the most prominent hashtags and themes tweeted and retweeted by some 600 hand-selected but undisclosed accounts. (I have reason to believe that @MoonofA is among them.) The dashboard gave rise to an endless line of main-stream stories faking concern over alleged "Russian influence". The New York Times published several such stories including this recent one:

Cont. reading: The Media War On Truthful Reporting And Legitimate Opinions - A Documentary

Posted by b at 07:02 PM | Comments (126)

April 20, 2018

Syria Sitrep - Cleanup Around Damascus - WMD Rumors Prepare For New U.S. Attack

After the Syrian army liberated Douma, the next Takfiri held areas near the capital Damascus fell in short order. The Jaish al-Islam militants in Dumayr, north-east of Damascus, gave up without a fight. As usual by now the Takfiris were transferred to the north-western Idleb governorate held by al-Qaeda and other Turkish supported forces. The town of Dumayr controls the Damascus Baghdad highway. Capitulation negotiations in the nearby Eastern Qalamoun are ongoing.

The former Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk is an upbuild suburb south of Damascus. One part is in the hands of al-Qaeda and another was controlled by an Islamic State group. Offers to evacuate the groups were made but rejected. Yesterday the Syrian army launched a massive artillery barrage and the Russian and Syrian air force dropped bombs onto the quarter. Today, just twenty-four hours later, the Takfiris gave up. The al-Qaeda aligned militants will be evacuated to Idleb, the Islamic State aligned group to the eastern Syrian desert.

With each elimination of a 'rebel' pockets Syrian army is gaining strength. Ten-thousands of soldiers who were needed to hold the Takfiri held areas around Damascus surrounded and under control are now free to attack elsewhere. Some of the militants who did not evacuate also joined the government forces.

The evacuation of many militants to the north-west might later turn up to be problematic. They will eventually come under Turkish control and could be used in another Turkish attempt to take Aleppo. But for now they are infighting. Al-Qaeda in Syria, now renamed to Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) is fighting with other groups over control of the area. Over the last months about one thousand of the militants have killed each other, 3,000 were wounded and many of their heavy arms were destroyed. The Syrian government hopes that such infighting will continue for a while.

Cont. reading: Syria Sitrep - Cleanup Around Damascus - WMD Rumors Prepare For New U.S. Attack

Posted by b at 03:06 PM | Comments (136)

April 19, 2018

Syria - Who Is Stalling The OPCW Investigation In Douma?

Why has the fact finding mission (FFM)of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) not visited Douma?

The OPCW inspectors are held up by the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) which has a say about any movement of UN aligned organizations in areas that might be dangerous. The UNDSS is led by an Australian police / intelligence officer. The holdup seems to be intended.

On Sunday April 8 videos were published of an alleged 'chemical attack' in Douma near Damascus. At that time the area was under control of Jaish al-Islam, a Salafi terrorist organization financed by Saudi Arabia. The various videos from terrorist supporters like the 'White Helmets' were unconvincing. They showed obviously arranged scenes of an alleged 'barrel bomb' and manipulated bodies of dead children that had been moved and decorated with shaving foam to superficially fit the claims of a 'chemical incident'. Another video showed people in a hospital being doused with water for no apparent reason.

An often quoted opposition news outlet, the Syrian Observatory in Britain, denied that a 'chemical attack' had happened. It reported on April 8 of suffocation after a shelter collapsed due to bombing:

[I]n among the casualties there are 21 civilians including 9 children and 3 women were killed as a result of suffocation caused by the shelling which destroyed basements of houses as a result of the violence bombardment that stopped about an hour ago on Douma area.

The 'chemical incident' was likely faked. It suspiciously happened just a few days after U.S. President Trump had announced the he wanted the U.S. military to leave Syria. A year earlier a similar incident was claimed to have happened after a similar announcement by Trump. The U.S. had responded to the 2017 incident by bombing an empty Syrian airfield.

A day after the incident the Salafi terrorists of Jaish al-Islam gave up and left the area under a ceasefire deal arranged with the help of the Russian military in Syria. The ceasefire deal does not allow the Syrian army to enter the area, only the Russian military police is allowed.

Russian military police immediately entered the area and investigated the house where, allegedly, people were killed by 'chemical weapons'. They found no evidence that such an event had taken place. The Syrian government asked the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical aWeapons (OPCW) to investigate the case.

Many international news teams have since visited the area where the incident allegedly took place. The also visited the field hospital shown in one of the opposition videos. Doctors at that hospital deny (vid) that any patient of theirs had been affected by a chemical attack. The cases they had seen had breathing difficulties caused by the inhalation of dust thrown up through exploding bombs and artillery. Alleged 'victims' shown in the hospital video claim (vid) they were paid to perform.

Cont. reading: Syria - Who Is Stalling The OPCW Investigation In Douma?

Posted by b at 12:46 AM | Comments (221)

April 17, 2018

Open Thread 2018-18

The post I worked on did not pan out. You are on your own.

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:43 PM | Comments (227)

April 16, 2018

Syria - Pentagon Hides Attack Failure - 70+ Cruise Missiles Shot Down

The U.S. military seems to hide that its attack on Syria last Saturday largely failed. We checked the numbers and sources and said so in our weekly review published yesterday. This post is extending yesterday's analysis.

The U.S. attack on Saturday was launched as revenge for an alleged 'chemical attack' by the Syrian government forces against the then 'rebel' held Damascus suburb Douma. The alleged 'chemical attack' never happened but was theater staged by the 'rebels' and their supporters after some people suffocated in a collapsed building.

There is a very large discrepancy between the Russian Ministry of Defense report of the strike as well as other sources and the description in the Pentagon briefing on the strike. According to the Pentagon only three places related to a nonexistent Syrian chemical weapon program were targeted:

This combined military strike was directed against three distinct Syrian chemical weapons program targets.
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We are confident that all of our missiles reached their targets.
...
In summary, in a powerful show of allied unity, we deployed 105 weapons against three targets.

One hundred and five weapons against three targets would be a remarkable overkill. Just consider that the U.S. Tomahawk and JASSM cruise missiles and the British Skalp EG cruise missiles used in these attacks carry 450 kilogram (~1,000 pounds) of high explosives each. Did the U.S. military really plan to use 15 metric tons of high explosives against each target. That would be enough to blow up a whole town.

The U.S. claims it sent 76 cruise missiles against the non-hardened, non-defended Barzeh research center. This was a small two story building complex and had just recently been declared free of chemical weapons and weapon research by the OPCW.


Barzeh Research center before and after - bigger

Sure, the facility is destroyed. But by 34 tons of high explosives? Or by maybe 2 tons?

Cont. reading: Syria - Pentagon Hides Attack Failure - 70+ Cruise Missiles Shot Down

Posted by b at 03:36 PM | Comments (174)