Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 14, 2014

Ukraine: Europe Stagnates, Russia Growns

Russia seems to somewhat de-russify the conflict in Ukraine:

15:39 GMT: - Igor Strelkov, the field commander and defense minister of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk, has resigned, according to a statement published on the local militia’s website. He will be replaced by Vladimir Kononov as military commander, the website said.

08:36 GMT: - Head of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People's Republic Valery Bolotov has resigned his position, citing an injury that prevents him to work to the full extend. He said the republic's Defense Minister Igor Plotnitsky is likely to replace him and that he will remain among the officials of the unrecognized entity in another capacity.

Last week the Donetsk People's Republic, the other of the two self-proclaimed entities in eastern Ukraine, had its head Aleksandr Boroday replaced.

At least Strelkov and Boroday are Russian citizens. Bolotov was born in Russia. Their replacements seem to be from Ukraine.

This step was probably taken to distance Russia from the insurgency.

Meanwhile 12 Red Sektor nazis from an Einsatzgruppe on its way to the battlefield were killed yesterday in an ambush by the insurgents. The city center of insurgency held Donetsk was under artillery fire today and several civilians died. Over thousand have died in the last two weeks alone and the situation in the insurgency held cities is bad with water and electricity distributions destroyed by Ukrainian government bombardments.

The Ukraine government seems unable to decide if it will allow an aid-convoy of 280 trucks with humanitarian supply from Russia into the areas of conflict. Letting the trucks in would require at least a temporary cease-fire and a stop of the continued artillery bombardment. Not letting in the urgently needed goods puts the Ukrainian government into a very bad light.

The sanctions the European Union was pressed to push onto Russia prove very effective in sending Europe back into a recession. While Europe's economic growth in the second quarter was flat and is likely to turn negative Russia's economy continues to grow.

This is the well deserved punishment for following the crazy foreign policies of the United States which are designed to keep Europe and Russia weak and apart.

Posted by b at 12:58 PM | Comments (83)

August 13, 2014

Iraq And The "Replacing The Head" Fallacy

Eight years after the United States and Iran agreed to enthrone Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister of Iraq they agreed to replace him with the relatively unknown Haider al-Abadi.

The United States claims it wants a more "inclusive" government while Iran goes along just making sure someone friendly to its own plans is at the top. Al-Abadi seems to fit both their ideas. But the hope that changing a head will change the path Iraq is on is vain. It is only very seldom the man at the top who is a country's problem.

It is a U.S. foreign policy fallacy that changing the man at the top, always likened to Hitler, will solve everything. The fallacy is somewhat self enforcing. Some "senior administration official" leaks to the media that X is probably not such a good man. The media then go around and collect anecdotes, rumors and quotes which support the unspecific claims about X. The next day the "senior administration official" reads the New York Times or watches CNN and fells affirmed in his position because, you know, X is really a very bad man and the sole problem and all you need to confirm that is right there in the media.

But usually it is not the person who manages a nation who is forming that nation. The nation and its situation are just as much forming the person leading it. Ghaddafi wasn't the way he was because he created Libya to his likeness but because successfully leading a united Libya required him to be the way he was. Russia is not re-surging because of Putin but because Putin formed his policies to the way Russia is. It is that, not his personality, that gives him sky high poll ratings. Maliki led Iraq in a way that gave him the support of the majority of its people. He did not give in to the blackmail by Sunni tribes which had become accustomed to the bribes the U.S. military had showered them with. It is that "lack of inclusiveness" that made him successful:

Mr. Maliki’s bloc won the most seats in April’s national election, and Mr. Maliki personally won more votes than any other politician.

If al-Abadi changes Maliki's major policies he will have no support from the majority of his country and will either end up as a brutal dictator or dead.

The rules of the political cycle in unruly countries apply:

  1. A strongman is replaced by a weak man who resorts to force to rule over a fractured society
  2. See #1

Replacing Maliki, a still complicate and uncertain process, will not change Iraq, its problems, like the U.S. support for a Kurdish oil state, or the policy decisions its leaders will have to make to stay liked and alive.

Posted by b at 09:49 AM | Comments (126)

August 11, 2014

Open Thread 2014-17

Some meta issues:

If your comment does not appear it is usually hanging in the automatic spam filter over which I have NO influence. I manually check the spam queue at least once a day and release non-spam comments falsly caught in there. It does not help when you repeatedly try to publish the same comment over and over again filling up the spam queue. It just makes it more laborious for me to clean up the queue.

Some commentators are blocked from this blog and I will continue to aggressively block those who fall in one of these categories:

  • One issue folks: Everything happening in this world must be the result of the deft work of the Zionists, the British royals, the freemasons, the Jews, Islam, the Pope or who/whatever your favorite personal demon is. Sorry, the world is not that simple. If that fact is beyond your mental capacity go elsewhere. Such simpleminded themes do not help to gain knowledge but detract from the discussion of the issues at hand.
  • People who use (too many) four letter words and lack general manners.
  • Those who constantly attack other commentators or the proprietor of this blog. If you have a difference in opinion use arguments, not foul speech.
  • People who only comment to promote another blog.
  • Folks who use many many one-liner-comments thereby disrupting the flow instead of collecting their thoughts and writing one comment that fits the purpose.

Solely depending on my mood and personal judgement I may ban folks for other reasons. It is my time and money that keeps this blog up and the blocking privilege is part of the gratification. Deal with it.

---

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 03:02 PM | Comments (204)

August 10, 2014

The Islamic State Prepares For A Big Attack - Baghdad Or Aleppo?

A month ago I wrote that the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) is now the only game in town when it comes to insurgents fighting against the Syrian (and now also Iraqi) state:

In a few month the Islamic Front will no longer exist. It will vanish like that phantasy of a Free Syrian Army. Parts of it will swear allegiance to the Islamic State, parts will give up fighting and parts will change over to the government side. Then the real war against ISIS will start.

The "moderate rebels" Washington has been searching for for years are a unicorn. Whomever the U.S. gave weapons to and trained in Jordan and Turkey is now part of ISIS.

The Islamic State consolidates itself (recommended) in west Iraq and across the east and north of Syria:

The frontiers of the new Caliphate declared by Isis on 29 June are expanding by the day and now cover an area larger than Great Britain and inhabited by at least six million people, a population larger than that of Denmark, Finland or Ireland. In a few weeks of fighting in Syria Isis has established itself as the dominant force in the Syrian opposition, ...

By now IS generates enough money from oil sales and blackmail to support itself. It has taken an immense haul of weapons from four Iraqi divisions and now also from the Syrian Brigade 93 which it defeated a week ago:

In addition to 5+ 122mm D-30 howitzers, the IS captured approx. 20 T-55 tanks & 1 ZSU-23-4 Shilka SPAAG

Note: The haul in Iraq was much, much bigger than this one.

The Islamic State has enough experienced soldiers to handle these weapons. How good its logistics are run though is an open questions. Those may eventually turn out to be its weak point.

The Islamic State also gained in numbers. Even the ardent promoter of the non-existent Syrian Free Army Hassan Hassan now admits that all these folks are under IS control. International forces so far aligned with Al-Qaeda are moving over to IS. Tribes in the newly captured areas pledge allegiance to the Islamic State and add to its forces.

One military expert says:

Cont. reading: The Islamic State Prepares For A Big Attack - Baghdad Or Aleppo?

Posted by b at 01:31 PM | Comments (206)

August 08, 2014

Malooga On WW III: "All the World's a Spectacle"

by Malooga
lifted from a comment

@Noirette, et al, from previous thread: Evgeny Fedorov's presentations are very good; certainly in communicating the level of threat Russia feels. Also recommended are the various audio and video presentations of Joaquin Flores to be found around the web and on his website - Center for Syncretic Studies. He's quite young and a bit of an odd bird -- a former radical leftist from LA, now Dugin acolyte, or so he claims -- one never knows just who anyone really is these days on the innertubes. But he is quite humble and he has the big picture of a multi-polar world -- something which can unite people over many political persuasions -- foremost in his mind. Both give a good sense of what might be expected over the long game, and why Russia is taking things slow. Essential background.

But the most concise and prescient background on the current world situation are two brief articles Christof Lehmann, proprietor of the nsnbc website, wrote: first, "Russia – E.U. Meeting in Brussels: Risk of Middle East and European War increased," way back on Dec 22, 2012, and the second, "The Atlantic Axis and the Making of a War in Ukraine", written last week.

In the former article he begins: "On 21. December 2012 the political leaders of 27 E.U. countries and Russia´s President Vladimir Putin met in Brussels. On the top of the agenda were problems which are directly related to the ongoing war in Syria. Russian control over major parts of the energy which the European Union will require over the course of the next 100 years, Russian-Iranian dominance over the most competitive gas resources and pipelines in the Middle East, US-American and British initiatives to change the energy-dynamics militarily and a European dilemma between Trans-Atlantic allies who are pushing Europe toward a war with Russia to save the Petro Dollar and greater integration of Russian and European energy sectors and market economies."

He begins the later article thusly: "The war in Ukraine became predictable when the great Muslim Brotherhood Project in Syria failed during the summer of 2012. It became unavoidable in December 2012, when the European Union and Russia failed to agree on the EU’s 3rd Energy Package. The geopolitical dynamics which are driving the war in Ukraine were known in the early 1980s."

Remember that the real game is the breaking of the PetroDollar, not the back of poor "Chocula" Petrodollarshenko, and so every day that a major conflagration can be forestalled is a day closer to the real goal; and also that what we are witnessing in the Ukraine is cutting-edge 4th generation warfare -- sort of a quietly lethal pas de deux. One should not be so naive as to believe that this conflict has taken any of the world powers by surprise -- They all have had close to two years notice, at minimum. In a sense, we are still in the "chess opening" stage, where the majority of the moves have been charted out by both sides. But the middle game is very close at hand. And, yes, it is theoretically possible for the three sides to come to a backroom agreement before the deadly endgame closes in upon us.

Cont. reading: Malooga On WW III: "All the World's a Spectacle"

Posted by b at 12:45 PM | Comments (141)

What Obama Told The Caliph

U.S. F-18 jets bombed two U.S. made artillery pieces the Islamic State was using to prepare its attack on Erbil in the Kurdish part of Iraq.

The attack came after Obama addressed Caliph Pol Pot II yesterday to suggest that the Islamic State should leave the few the areas which are of positive American interests off its target list:

Obama, in a statement delivered at the White House late Thursday, said that strikes would be launched against extremist convoys “should they move toward” the Kurdish capital of Irbil, where the United States maintains a consulate and a joint operations center with the Iraqi military.

“We intend to take action if they threaten our facilities anywhere in Iraq . . . including Irbil and Baghdad,” he said.

What Obama did not say is the actual message Caliph Pol Pot II will have received:

  • "You are free to target anything you like but the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and the Kurdish part of Iraq. There U.S. companies are invested in oil, there we have this big new intelligence station and and there the Israelis have their large, long running intelligence operation targeting Iran."
  • "Otherwise you are free to attack anybody in Syria or the rest of Iraq. We will do nothing, not even bomb the heavy weapons you have, to deny you total victory. Just like you we do not care what will happen to this or that minority or majority there. Fuck the Yazidis. (But do you really have to make these bombastic public relation efforts with all its massacre movies? They rill up these R2P idiots who don't understand the real purpose of that doctrine.)
  • "You took about four Iraqi divisions worth of fine heavy weapons and ammunition 'Made in U.S'. It is excellent stuff. Feel free to use it. We could of course bomb all of it without setting a foot on the ground. But that's not in my interest. Say 'Tanks for the memories', hehe. We will sell another set to those dupes in Baghdad. We hope to have them resupplied and ready for your next raid before you run out of your current stock."
  • "By the way - in case you need some additional anti-tank weapons. We have just given several dozens of TOW to some groups in north-west Syria. There is a good chance for you to 'negotiate' access to some of them."
  • "I am told you announced that you are preparing something big, like really big, like 9/11. Fine, but please leave us out of it. We are busy with our war on Russia. How about Jeddah?"
  • "Hey, or what about attacking Iran? I'd like to do that myself but my people won't let me."
  • "I really like your new Jihadi gift shop in Istanbul. My kids were asking for some of that merchandize. Do they take Visa?"

Posted by b at 12:22 PM | Comments (52)

Gaza: The War Is On Again

The talks in Cairo during the agreed 72 hour cease-fire failed. Israel and Egypt would not commit to the Palestinian demand to lift the siege on Gaza and to open the border crossings. The Israeli delegation left the talks even before the truce period ended at 8 am local time today (Notice how the Washington Post is lying about this fact.)

As soon as the 72 hour period ended the Islamic Jihad military wing in Gaza started to launch rockets at Israeli targets near the Gaza border. Hamas did not join in - a signal that there was still a chance for further negotiations. But about an hour later Israel launched new air strikes at northern Gaza. Palestinians near the border areas flee towards Gaza city.

The Israeli prime minister Netanyahoo had claimed that his recent war on Gaza had "restored Israel's deterrence". That was obviously an illusion.

Hamas had announced that it would next target Israel's only international airport near Tel Aviv. Stopping international air traffic brings serious damage to Israel's economy. Hamas will also try to bait the Israeli army into re-invading the Gaza strip. Its calculation is that more Israeli casualties, as would be certain in close-in fighting, might push the Israeli government to finally lift the seven year old siege.

There may be chance for that as the UN as well as the U.S. have lately spoken out against the continued blockade. But Israel's hardliners will disagree. They still believe in "deterrence" even though such never works when there is no alternative left for the other side but to slowly die. When and how this war on Gaza may now end is not obvious while the nightmare in Gaza continues.

Posted by b at 06:32 AM | Comments (70)

August 07, 2014

Ukraine: One Nazi Resigns - Russia Sanctions Start To Blow Back

The most aggressive man in the Ukrainian government, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Andrey Parubiy resigned today:

The media stated that Parubiy decided to resign after he was ordered [by President Petro Poroshenko] to declare another ceasefire in Kiev’s military operation in the southeast of the country, but he refused to do so.

Parubiy was co-founder of the far-right Social-National Party of Ukraine and was creator and commander of the Einsatzgrupppen like volunteer National Guard forces which are currently suppressing the people in the east.

It seems that the indiscriminate shelling of major cities in the east under Parubiy's command had finally had enough negative publicity effects. The UN is alarmed about the refugee streams and the humanitarian situation and even Amnesty International is now accusing Parubiy's Einsatzgruppen of abductions and ill-treatment of the eastern population. Poroshenko needs to stop the war before public support for him  completely disappears.

An attempt today by the new rulers to clear away the Maidan protesters who helped them into power ended, like before, in outright street fights. These protesters are still waiting for any change. Corruption in Ukraine is as big as ever. Only the oligarchs who end up with the peoples money have changed.

NATO chief Rasmussen, who is currently in Kiev, will be disappointed if Kiev decides to stop the war. He is dearly hoping for Russia to militarily intervene in Ukraine which would then justify further NATO aggressions. If Kiev keeps shelling the local population Russia will need to send peacekeepers to stop the killing. If the shelling stops there is no reason for Russia to step in.

The outright stupid sanctions the EU put on Russia are creating the well deserved blowback. The Russian president Putin's approval rating soared to 87%. The counter sanctions Russia is implementing by rejecting food imports from the countries sanctioning it will be great for Russia's local producers. Some "western experts" believe that sanctions will over time push the Russian middle class against Putin. Anyone with a slight insight into Russia's social history will call this bullshit.

Under pressure Russia always unites and the national character is one that will rather do without any luxury at all before giving in to foreign pressure. Russia has enough land, people and resources to produce everything it needs. There is no way sanctions on Russia will have any of the allegedly desired effects.

Posted by b at 02:09 PM | Comments (107)

August 06, 2014

U.S. Sanctions Erode Its Foreign Influence

A few days ago the Leveretts looked at the effects of U.S. financial sanctions and the other ways the U.S. pisses off major countries. They find that the current path of U.S. foreign policy will erode the U.S. dollar hegemony and lead to a destruction of the "extraordinary privilege" (de Gaulle) the U.S. has had with the ability to print the world's reserve currency. The political erosion of the dollar will be felt in the commodity markets and especially in energy deals which will then have further effects in foreign relations: Petrodollars, Petroyuan, and the Ongoing Erosion of American Hegemony

Looking ahead, use of renminbi to settle international hydrocarbon sales will surely increase, accelerating the decline of American influence in key energy-producing regions. It will also make it marginally harder for Washington to finance what China and other rising powers consider overly interventionist foreign policies—a prospect America’s political class has hardly begun to ponder.

Sadly, only few will listen to the Leveretts but now Bloomberg picked up the theme: Russia Sanctions Accelerate Risk to Dollar Dominance

While no one’s suggesting the dollar will lose its status as the main currency of business any time soon, its dominance is ebbing. The greenback’s share of global reserves has already shrunk to under 61 percent from more than 72 percent in 2001. The drumbeat has only gotten louder since the financial crisis in 2008, an event that began in the U.S. when subprime-mortgage loans soured, and the largest emerging-market nations including Russia have vowed to conduct more business in their currencies.

“The crisis created a rethink of the dollar-denominated world that we live in,” said Joseph Quinlan, chief market strategist at Bank of America Corp.’s U.S. Trust, which oversees about $380 billion. “This nasty turn between Russia and the West related to sanctions, that can be an accelerator toward a more multicurrency world.”

Some five years ago we already looked at this decline of the U.S. dollar as reserve currency and its effects:

So far the U.S. could borrow cheaply and pay back less in real value than the original loan. That privilege is now going away. The trillions the U.S. currently needs to borrow from abroad will have to be payed back in full. That is a major change in its global power status and will seriously decrease its influence in international policy questions.

The European Union which stupidly followed the U.S. sanctions on Russia with its own is also hurting itself:

Financial interdependence offers a powerful opportunity for coercive diplomacy.

But the unintended message Europe's leaders sent is that financial interdependence is a source of vulnerability that countries like Russia, but also China, Iran and others, would be wise to avoid.
...
Europe's financial sanctions against Russia likewise add incentives for countries to look for alternative arrangements that reduce financial interdependence.

Moreover, those incentives will only increase if the sanctions are successful. Even if Europe encourages the Russian government to change its policy toward Ukraine, the Russian government will respond over the longer term by seeking financial arrangements that leave it less exposed to such coercion.

It will take years until the dollar will lose its reserve status but the decline is already visible. More and more deals are now made bilateral between partners in their own currencies and get settled outside of the financial channels the U.S. tries to sanction, block, spy on or to criminalize.

The U.S. foreign policy reliance on sanctions, pressure and war is sawing off the high branch the U.S. is sitting on.

Posted by b at 12:12 PM | Comments (171)

August 04, 2014

Cuba: Obama Promissed Better Relations, Sent USAID For "Regime Change"

Until mid 2012 US AID, the alleged "development organization" known for clandestine work against U.S. enemies, ran a secret Twitter like service in Cuba to "promote democracy", i.e. incite opposition to the government there. It also ran, as the Associated Press now reports ( long version, documents), another undercover program aimed at recruiting Cuban youth as U.S. agents:

An Obama administration program secretly dispatched young Latin Americans to Cuba using the cover of health and civic programs to provoke political change, a clandestine operation that put those foreigners in danger even after a U.S. contractor was hauled away to a Cuban jail.

The U.S. contractor, one Alan Gross, was hauled to jail in Cuba because he secretly distributed U.S. communication devices like satellite phones for U.S. supervised Internet access. He allegedly also worked for US AID.

But the scheme uncovered now is even worse. Poor young Latin American people were hired for very small money to go to Cuba under cover and to find Cuban "activists" who could be recruited for U.S. political purposes. This not only endangered the little trained Latin American agents and those they recruited but it also abused health services and other legitimate needs as a cover:

In one case, the workers formed an HIV-prevention workshop that memos called "the perfect excuse" for the program's political goals - a gambit that could undermine America's efforts to improve health globally.

As in Pakistan, where the CIA abused a polio prevention program to spy on the suspected Osama Bin Laden, the blowback will not only hit "America's efforts" for health projects but also those of everyone else. It will literally hit and possibly kill the persons that do the health work on the ground.

Using an fake HIV project in Cuba also shows the utter stupidity of the wannabe spies at USAID. Cuba is the state with the lowest HIV infection rate in the Caribbean. Its rate is even lower than the rate in Canada and Switzerland and only a third of the HIV rate in the United States. Anyone who starts a HIV prevention service in Cuba rather than in a hundred other countries sticks out like a large red pole in the blue Caribbean sea.

All three secret USAID infiltration attempts in Cuba, the "communication equipment", the "Twitter service" and this "activist recruiting" drive were launched under Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Both had promised better relations with Cuba and then immediately started secret "regime change" programs which, when becoming public as they did, would undermine all such efforts.

This only shows again why every nation on this world must distrust ANY word that comes out of official Washington. The leaders from African countries who are just now visiting Washington should keep the Cuban example in mind when Obama tries to charm them into U.S. dependency. None of his words can be trusted or be accepted as having any real meaning.

Posted by b at 10:12 AM | Comments (73)

August 03, 2014

Obama's Russia Policies Are Based On Ignorance, Illusions

Obama's Russia policies are based on ignorance and driven by illusions:

President Barack Obama dismissed Russia as a nation that "doesn't make anything" and said in an interview with the Economist magazine that the West needs to be "pretty firm" with China as Beijing pushes to expand its role in the world economy.
...
"Immigrants aren't rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking," he said.

Fact: Russia is making and exporting not only raw materials but also lots of industrial goods, machinery (65% increase over 5 years) and weapons:

Russia has cemented its place as the world's second largest suppliers of arms. In 2012, the country shipped $15.13 billion worth of weapons, up $2 billion from the year before.
...
Although Russian arms manufacturers still sell only a third of what their American counterparts achieve, the yearly rate of growth in exports and the over-fulfillment of annual plans cannot fail to please the authorities and defense industry chiefs.

Fact: Russia has strong, net positive migration:

Russia experiences a constant flow of immigration. On average, close to 300,000 legal immigrants enter the country every year; about half are ethnic Russians from the other republics of the former Soviet Union. There is a significant inflow of ethnic Armenians, Uzbeks, Kyrgyz and Tajiks into big Russian cities, something that is viewed unfavorably by some citizens. In addition, there are an estimated 4 million illegal immigrants from the ex-Soviet states in Russia.

Fact: Over the last decade life expectancy in Russia has significantly increased:

Russia - Life expectancy at birth
DateLife expectancyLife expectancy - MenLife expectancy - Women
2012 70.46 64.90 76.30
2011 69.66 64.00 75.60
2010 68.86 63.10 74.90
2009 68.70 62.80 74.70
2008 67.90 61.80 74.20
2007 67.50 61.40 73.90
2006 66.60 60.40 73.20
2005 65.47 58.87 72.40
2004 65.42 58.87 72.30
2003 65.01 58.51 71.83
2002 65.09 58.50 72.00
2001 65.49 59.00 72.30
2000 65.34 59.00 72.00

Fact: Russia has genuine population growth:

[L]last year [..] Russia recorded its first year of natural population growth since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, with the number of births exceeding the number of deaths by 24,013. The trend continued through the beginning of this year, according to data released by the State Statistics Service at the end of May.

All four claims Obama made in the Economist interview quoted above are demonstrably false. They are mere illusions.  How qualified then is he to decide on policy issues with regard to Russia?

Posted by b at 09:27 PM | Comments (109)

Islamic State Attacks In Iraq And Lebanon

The Islamic State is on the march. Over the last days it had conquered several villages in Iraq and today it attacked and conquered the city of Sinjar and the surrounding province of the same name. This is in the north west of Iraq in the Nineveh governorate and the province, next to Mosul, was held by Kurd Peshmerga forces. These folded and fled after they ran out of ammunition. Many villages in the area are inhabited by Yazidi, an Kurd ethno-religious community with an ancient religion comparable to Zoroastrianism.

According to the UN over 200,000 Yazidi have fled from their homes for fear of getting killed by IS savages.

The fighting is moving to the Mosul dam, a strategic target more important than the city it is named after. Today the dam is still held by Kurd forces but as the Islamic State can now attack them from two sides their current position is in trouble.

It only now becomes clear how much material power IS has gained after some divisions of the Iraqi army around Mosul simply dissolved under its first attack. IS has salvaged the nearly complete inventory of four army divisions including tanks, missiles and thousands of tons of ammunition. This is enough material to fit out a mechanized army of some 60,000 men. IS also gained access to air-defense capabilities far beyond the usual Man Portable Missiles (MANPADs). The United States ordered its airlines to fly at higher altitudes over Iraq:

U.S. airlines are now prohibited from flying over Iraq below 30,000 feet, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The agency, which had previously restricted airlines from flying below 20,000, issued the new requirement because of "the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Iraq."

The Islamic State is not only attacking in Iraq. In Syria, near the Lebanese border, the Syrian army supported by Hizbullah is clearing the western Qalamon mountain area were several thousand of insurgents had fled to. The Lebanese town of Arsal, just across the border, is the insurgents main support base. The Lebanese army had for some time isolated the town but in the last 24 hours was attacked by major Islamic State forces. Several Lebanese army and policemen were killed and some were captured. The Lebanese army is pouring in more forces but the fighting seems to be very serious. Breaking the isolation of Arsal would allow the Islamic State to attack other areas in Lebanon including those supporting Hizbullah.

The New York Times report on the attack of Arsal is somewhat astonishing (or intentionally) naive about the attacking forces. It takes some ten paragraphs for the reader to find out that the attackers are savages loyal to the Islamic State. The mess starts with the headline: Gunmen From Syria Hit Army Checkpoints in Lebanon

Gunmen who crossed into northeastern Lebanon from Syria attacked several army checkpoints in a border town on Saturday in what appeared to be an effort to win the release of a Syrian rebel who had been detained by Lebanese troops.
...
... the gunmen, identified as rebel fighters from across the border in Syria.
...
... attacks by the gunmen ...
...
... gunmen had also attacked homes ... seized by rebels ...
...
... the gunmen had also seized 17 members of the security forces at a police station and wanted to exchange them for the Syrian rebel, Imad Ahmad Jomaa, ...
...
... rebel fighters cross into Lebanon ...
...
... the army had detained Mr. Jomaa, who was accused of being a commander of a rebel brigade that had joined the Nusra Front, ...
...
... in a video posted on YouTube late last month, Mr. Jomaa and members of his brigade can be seen pledging their allegiance to a more extreme group, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, or ISIS. ...
...
The rebels who attacked ...
...
...at least at a local level, Mr. Jomaa and his fighters have publicly embraced ISIS recently.

One really has to read down to last paragraphs of the NYT piece to find out that the local "gunmen" and those glorified "Syrian rebels" involved in attacking the Lebanese army here are fighters loyal to the Islamic State.

Why is the NYT burying this fact? Alarm bells should go off when these radicals, with their now enormous military potential, are launching an all out attack against Lebanese security forces.

Posted by b at 11:38 AM | Comments (69)

August 02, 2014

Netanyahoo Is Giving Up

Without taking many more military casualties Israel can not reach any of its declared objectives in Gaza. Netanyahoo is giving up for now and has ordered the retreat of all Israeli forces. He rejects any negotiated cease fire as he politically would win nothing but possibly loose a lot through it. Hamas is thereby free to do whatever it decides to do.

As soon as the fighting dies somewhat down the censorship over the Israeli press will have to be lifted. The reports then will show that the political decision making over the attack on Gaza was crude and panicked. It will also show that the IDF's operations were hapless and with only few successes. The army lost at least 64 soldiers to enemy fire while in its last incursion into Gaza only 6 were killed by the opposition. There will be many questions asked to the high command and heads will roll.

Some commission may even ask why Netanyahoo decided to start this unsuccessful campaign at all. I also expect that Obama and Kerry will be looking for some revenge for the insults Netanyahoo publicly threw at them. His career as politician will be damaged and possibly even over.

Meanwhile the ordeal of Gaza and its peoples will continue.

Posted by b at 01:53 PM | Comments (96)

Ukraine: What Is The Situation?

The news from Ukraine is quite vague. It is not exactly clear to me who is gaining in the military field. While the Ukrainian military claims to have some successes it is also losing quite a lot of material and personal. At least ten Ukrainian soldiers, probably many more, were killed in an ambush yesterday. Add to that many pictures of destroyed tanks and APCs.

So what is really the military and political situation? Is there a reliable side or source for information on it?

Posted by b at 01:38 PM | Comments (112)

August 01, 2014

A Zionist Demanding Genocide

One would think that a sad, sorry history of ones own people would create some sensitivity towards other people. But it does not. At least some people rather seem to take the horrors their ancestors had to endure as behavioral guidance for their own attitude towards other people in similar sorry circumstances.

 

The Times of Israel now removed the piece (image of full text, full text on pastebin) from its website but it is still up at the U.S. paper 5 Towns Jewish Times and the writer is defending it on Twitter (screenshot):

5 Ceasefires all breached through missiles and kidnappings. There is only one way to neutralize the threat. Wake-up!

Some core sentences of the screed:

What other way then is there to deal with an enemy of this nature other than obliterate them completely?
...
If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?

In the 1930s/40s Reinhard Heidrich and some other mass murderers agreed with the author of the piece and answered those questions in the affirmative.

Judging from online comments by Israel supporters many of them would support at least the thrust of the piece. There is also another piece calling for genocide at the Times of Israel site:

Just as the Amalekites were the victims of their own king, whom Saul left alive and why today, we fight the modern day Amalekites in every generation.

It’s time to take heed of the words of the L-rd, it is time to do what the people of Israel demand, it is time to kill Agag.

Calling to genocide Palestinians is seemingly not just a singular opinion. Why then was one genocidal piece removed by the Times of Israel while others are still up?

Posted by b at 12:56 PM | Comments (98)

Gaza: Israel Uses Hannibal Directive To Kills 50 Palestinians After Soldier Captured

A cease-fire between Gaza and Israel was announced for this morning at 8am local time. The Israeli defense forces continued to operate in Gaza and to destroy the Palestinian tunnels. Shortly before the official cease-fire start, according to Palestinian sources, a commando of Islamic Jihad fighters infiltrated the Israeli line through a tunnel, attacked a group of Israeli soldiers, killed several and captured one of them alive. This happened near the southern Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

The Israelis took a while to notice that a soldier had been captured but when they found out they immediately responded according to the Hannibal directive which demands to do everything possible to prevent that an Israeli soldier captured alive stays captured alive.

Accordingly, even before the capture of its soldier was publicly known, the Israeli army opened a barrage of artillery fire over south Gaza killing some 50 Palestinians and wounding more than 200 of them. These people were out in the streets and markets because they thought that the cease-fire was in place.

The cease-fire is for now over. It is unlikely that the Israelis have a chance to find their soldier.

Will they now again escalate and risk more possible captures or will they negotiate a new cease-fire and later the captured soldier's release?

Posted by b at 07:27 AM | Comments (74)

July 31, 2014

Liar, Liar ...

... pants on fire ...

CIA Director Brennan Denies Hacking Allegations, March 11 2014

BRENNAN: As far as the allegations of, you know, CIA hacking into, you know, Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn't do that. I mean, that's -- that's just beyond the -- you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we would do.

CIA improperly accessed Senate computers, agency finds, July 31 2014

WASHINGTON — CIA employees improperly accessed computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to compile a report on the agency’s now defunct detention and interrogation program, an internal CIA investigation has determined.

... your nose is longer than a telephone wire ...

PS: Does anybody still believe that the CIA is not sniffing on Congress' business? That it does not blackmail representatives and senators or that it does not otherwise illegally interferes in the business of the legislative?

Posted by b at 12:05 PM | Comments (64)

July 30, 2014

Gaza: Market Attack A "Ceasefire" Trap?

Today:

As the security cabinet meets, Israel decides to enact a limited humanitarian ceasefire from 3 to 7 p.m. [local time].

“The humanitarian window will not apply to the areas in which IDF soldiers are currently operating,” says the army in a statement. “Residents must not return to areas that have previously been asked to evacuate.”

Hamas called this Israeli "We will not shoot except where we will shoot" ceasefire a publicity stunt.

It may have been something worse than that. It probably was trap:

GAZA CITY, Palestine: At least 17 people were killed and more than 200 people wounded in an Israeli airstrike on a market near Gaza City Wednesday, medics said.

Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said the strike hit a busy market in the battered Shejaiya neighborhood, which lies between Gaza City and the border with Israel.

The strike came shortly after the Israeli army said it was observing a humanitarian lull that would be in force for four hours from 1200 GMT.

The people were out getting food because they thought the ceasefire might give them enough security to do so. The result was was quite a carnage (graphic video). Israel has all kinds of unmanned and manned observation platforms flying over Gaza. It could certainly see the people out in a busy market. But as always the Israeli spokesperson will first feign ignorance and then blame the resistance for this massacre. Usually such blame does not hold up to scrutiny.

This is not the first instance where Israel seems to trap people. How do you call it when Israel tells people to leave their home and take shelter and then shells the well known shelter and kills over 20 of those in there?

A trap would also fit the criminal concept of collective punishment:

What Israel is doing in Gaza now is collective punishment: It is punishment for Gaza’s refusal to be a docile ghetto. It is punishment for the gall of Palestinians in unifying, and of Hamas and other factions in responding to Israel’s siege and its provocations with resistance, armed or otherwise, after Israel repeatedly reacted to unarmed protest with crushing force.

I am not aware of any conflict in history in which collective punishment was a successful in bringing a conflict to an end. It always seems to increase the support for the resistance. One therefore wonders why Israeli is trying this at all.

Posted by b at 12:19 PM | Comments (100)

July 29, 2014

Ukraine: Pentagon Sees Ballistic Missile Launches - Why Then No MH17 Data?

Pentagon officials tell CNN (video) that the Ukrainian government fired three ballistic missiles towards the federalists during the last 48 hours. Such missiles have ranges from 50 miles up to some 600 miles and carry warheads with some 1,000 pounds or more of explosives.

This is a huge qualitative escalation of the conflict. It shows that the Ukrainian military is in real trouble as it now has resorts increasingly to very indiscriminate, imprecise and large weapons.

But there is one even more important issues that CNN will certainly not mention.

The U.S., like Russia, has satellites that watch for bigger missile launches. Some of these satellites are in a geostationary orbit. They permanently observe one area. Other are in a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and give a more detailed picture, but as they circulate the earth, for only the time of the overflight. That the Pentagon watched three ballistic missile launches lets me believe that a geostationary satellite with permanent observation was used in this case.

But if there is a U.S. geostationary infrared satellite watching Ukraine all the time it must also have observed the alleged launch of a BUK-1 anti-air missile against the flight MH17. Air-defense missiles release a lot of energy at launch and would be seen as significant, very fast growing white blob on an infrared picture.

The U.S. therefore obviously knows if, when and exactly from where a BUK-1 missile was launched against MH17. That the U.S. detected the ballistic missile launches makes this conclusion inevitable.

Why then is the U.S. not releasing the data of the BUK-1 launch against MH17?

Posted by b at 11:54 AM | Comments (197)

July 28, 2014

NBCNews Buries Its Own Journalist's Eyes, Modifies Gaza Story

About an hour ago I copied a piece from NBCNEWS to later use it as part of a (different) blogpost. It was headlined: Strikes Near Gaza's Shifa Hospital, Refugee Camp Kill or Hurt 30 (emphasis added)

Israeli strikes hit within yards of Gaza's main hospital as well as at a refugee camp on Monday, leaving at least 30 dead and wounded.

The explosion near Shifa Hospital around 5 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) caused some damage to the outpatient clinic, according to witnesses including an NBC News crew on the ground in the area. There was no immediate confirmation of deaths or injuries.

Another strike occurred at the Al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza. At least 30 dead and wounded were brought to Shifa Hospital in ambulances, civilian cars and on motorcycles. A NBC News team in the area said the strikes were in "close succession."

The Israel Defense Forces told Haaretz that a “preliminary investigation has found the Israeli army did not fire at the Shifa Hospital, and the fire is believed to have been Hamas.” The IDF could not immediately be reached to clarify that account on Monday. However, a NBC News journalist witnessed the attack on the hospital and said it had been fired by an Israeli drone.

The piece now, under the same URL and headline (link above) reads:

Missiles or rockets struck within yards of Gaza's main hospital and a nearby refugee camp Monday, leaving at least 30 dead and wounded.

The Israeli military denied reports its forces were responsible for the strikes, saying they were the result of rockets misfired by Palestinian militants.

The explosion near Shifa Hospital around 5 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) caused some damage to the outpatient clinic, according to witnesses including an NBC News crew on the ground in the area. There was no immediate confirmation of deaths or injuries.

Another strike occurred at the Al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza. A Palestinian health official says at least 10 people, including children, were killed in Monday's strikes. An NBC News team in the area said the strikes were in "close succession."

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that failed rocket launches were to blame.

"A short while ago Al-Shifa hospital was struck by a failed rocket attack launched by Gaza terror organizations. A barrage of three rockets that were aimed towards Israel, struck the hospital. At the time of the incident there was no Israeli military activity in the area surrounding the hospital whatsoever. "

Early reports from the ground said an Israeli drone was responsible for the attack.

An Israeli strike, witnessed by an NBC journalist as being fired by a drone, turns into anonymous "missiles or rockets" in the second variant of the piece. This after the IDF came up with some of its typical "they did it" stories.

The NBC journalist who witnessed the drone turns into anonymous "early reports from the ground".

There is no correction remark attached to the story.

Posted by b at 12:49 PM | Comments (128)

July 27, 2014

Chutzpa: Dozens Dead And Wounded - IDF Rejects Claims Of Casualties

Chutzpa is defined as:

unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall

Israeli tanks shell UN-run school, killing 16 - Xinhua, July 25, 2014

Four Israeli army tanks shells fired on Thursday at a school, run by the United Nations for Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, killing 16 and wounded dozens of civilians who took refuge to the school, medics and witnesses said.
...
Witnesses said that the Israeli army tanks, stationed north of Beit Hanoun, fired four shells directly at the school, where dozens of civilians were sitting into the classroom and children were playing in the yard, adding that "the yard was full of blood and flesh."

IDF: UN school yard was empty at time of Israeli strike - Haaretz July 27, 2014

According to the army, whose inquiry included investigations of the ground forces and video footage of the incident, “one of the mortars fell in the school’s courtyard whilst it was empty of people.”

“In light of the investigation’s findings, we have rejected claims of casualties in the school grounds as they were presented by various elements immediately after the incident took place,” the IDF Spokesman’s Unit announced Sunday morning.

The only effect such stupid IDF claims and its incredible brutality against the people of Gaza have is to stiffen the will for the Palestinian people to resists. The demand for the blood currently spilled is clear. End the blockade of Gaza:

But Mr. Abu Jama, whose own house was damaged, said any agreement had to include an opening of the crossings that tightly control all movement in and out of Gaza.

“And if there is no agreement, we want the resistance to continue fighting,” he said.

---
When his family fled, they took nothing, and he returned today hoping to gather clothes. But the building was pulverized, with nothing to salvage among the chunks of concrete. “We don't want a cease-fire after the destruction we've seen,” he said. “We want resistance, that's it.”

Posted by b at 12:55 PM | Comments (37)

Ukraine: Government Attack In Breach Of UN Resolution

The federalists fighting in east Ukraine seem to be in trouble. The Ukrainian army and "volunteers are attacking in size and tries to cut the federalist held area into two by pushing from two sides into the direction of Torez.

The map shows the rough plan, not actually progress, as presented by the Ukrainian government side.


bigger

 

Torez, the center of the push, is the area where flight MH-17 came down. With this push to the crash side the Ukrainian army infringes on the July 20 UN Security Council resolution where point 7:

Demands that all military activities, including by armed groups, be immediately ceased in the immediate area surrounding the crash site to allow for security and safety of the international investigation;

Dutch investigators planned to visit the site today but had to stay away while fighting occurred in the area. From the Ukrainian plan above it is obvious that the Ukrainian attack, not the federalists, is responsible for the fighting and the coup-government of Ukraine for impeding secure access to the site. Why is it so urgent right now for the Ukrainian government to get control of the crash site?

As part of its all-over attack today the Ukrainian army indiscriminately used Grad multiple rocket launchers to shell (vid) the surrounded city of Gorlivka which is in the hands of a few federalists. There are reports about several dozens of civilian casualties from this attack including a mother and her young child (photo).

Earlier Human Rights Watch had condemned such use of Grad rockets by the Ukrainian government:

The use of indiscriminate rockets in populated areas violates international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, and may amount to war crimes.

How long will it take for the "west" to express outrage over this breach of an UN resolution by the Ukrainian governments and its indiscriminate killing of "its own civilians"?

Posted by b at 12:28 PM | Comments (144)

July 26, 2014

How Netanyahoo Lied To Get His War On Gaza


Shujaiya, Gaza, after recent shelling and bombing by Israel

The current war on Gaza was started by Netanyahoo based on the racist frenzy he had created over the alleged kidnapping of three teenagers. The teenagers were killed by criminals a few hours after they were abducted. Netanyahho knew this but did not tell the public for three weeks falsely blaming Hamas. By then the public was in the mood for war. An Israeli official has now confirmed this in an on-the-record quote.

As Times of Israel reported on June 22, ten days after the "kidnapping":

Netanyahu: Hard evidence Hamas behind kidnappings

Israel has conclusive evidence that Hamas is behind the June 12 kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, and is passing that evidence on to several other countries before releasing it publicly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday morning.
...
Israel has “unequivocal proof that this is Hamas,” Netanyahu said ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “We are sharing this proof and information to this effect with several countries. Soon this information will be made public.”

Netanyahoo lied but a gag order prevented the Israeli press from mentioning it. Then Max Blumenthal reported in the Electronic Intifada on July 8:

Netanyahu government knew teens were dead as it whipped up racist frenzy

Israeli police, intelligence officials and Netanyahu knew within hours of the kidnapping and murder of the three teens that they had been killed. And they knew who the prime suspects were less than a day after the kidnapping was reported.

Rather than reveal these details to the public, Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency imposed a gag order on the national media, barring news outlets from reporting that the teens had almost certainly been killed, and forbidding them from revealing the identities of their suspected killers. The Shin Bet even lied to the parents of the kidnapped teens, deceiving them into believing their sons were alive.
...
On 12 June, three Jewish Israeli youths, Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, went missing while hitchhiking from Kfar Etzion, an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank. At 10:25pm, Shaar placed a panicked call to Israeli police.

During the eerie call lasting two minutes and nine seconds, the supposed kidnappers can be heard ordering the youths to keep their heads down. Israel Radio plays in the background as Shaar repeatedly appeals for help. Then several gunshots can be heard followed by celebratory singing as the kidnappers remark, “We got three.” The teens had been killed.

Soon after the call the murderers car, but not the dead bodies, was found with blood and DNA of the killed teens all over it.

J.J. Goldberg confirmed the story on July 10 in the Jewish Daily Forward and added that Hamas was clearly not responsible:

Cont. reading: How Netanyahoo Lied To Get His War On Gaza

Posted by b at 07:17 AM | Comments (107)

July 25, 2014

Ukraine: No "Western" Interest In Investigating MH17

After all the propaganda about the downed MH17 flight, screams about alleged looting and demands of access to the site, one would have expected some serious attempts to immediately investigate the case.

But hardly any are made:

At the field in Ukraine where the exploded remnants landed, there are no guards and no recovery workers, no police officers and no investigators. Early Thursday evening, there were almost no people — just two curious 12-year-old girls looking at part of the tail of the Boeing 777.
...
“There’s no one out here,” said Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, whose monitoring mission has been on the site every day since Friday. As for the arrival of international experts, “it’s not like our door is being broken down.”

After the U.S. blustering "we have evidence" that Russia did it and then showing nothing of it - "just trust us" - the U.S. seems have lost all interests to really find out who's ammunition downed the plane. Russia had early on called for an international investigation and it was Russia alone so far which presented real evidence on the case. U.S. ships with very capable missile defense radars were in the Black Sea over the last weeks and likely have very detailed track records of every flight and missile launch up to several hundred of miles away. None of those have been made public. We can guess why.

And those "looting" claims?

There were a few new faces at the site on Thursday. Three Australian investigators worked in the field, joining three Malaysians. Before departing Thursday, the Malaysians said that they were surprised at the amount of access they had to the site and that they felt safe, Mr. Bociurkiw said.

There have been widespread reports of looting, but Mr. Bociurkiw said his monitoring group, which has now spent more time at the site than any other, had not seen any. The Malaysians said they had seen valuables in the fields untouched, he noted, including a bottle of duty-free perfume, auto parts, backpacks full of belongings, a watch and some jewelry.

Those claims of looting were false just as the claims of mishandling the remains of the victims were false.

But the White House will not take back one any of those false claims. It continues its anti-Russia campaign is coming up with new claims for which again no facts are presented to back them up:

American officials, citing military intelligence, including satellite images, warned that Russia appeared to be preparing to arm the rebels with more high-powered weaponry — including tanks and armored vehicles — than it had previously supplied. In Kiev, a military spokesman said that Ukrainian troops were coming under increased fire from the Russian side of the border and that the Ukrainian military had recently shot down three Russian surveillance drones. One was used to target a Ukrainian base near the town of Amvrosiivka, which then quickly came under heavy rocket attack, the spokesman said.

Again these are just claims. Not one of the "satellite images" cited was presented.

But the main stream media fall for such nonsense and market it without inserting even the least bit of doubt.

Clearly the powers who be do want a war with Russia. A cold one for now but a hot one, destroying Europe's production capacities, would even be better for rather tepid U.S. economy.

Posted by b at 01:17 PM | Comments (136)

July 24, 2014

Israel Again And Again Shells Refugee Centers

The Onion is supposed to be a satire magazine. Just yesterday it headlined:

Israel: Palestinians Given Ample Time To Evacuate To Nearby Bombing Sites:

“Giving Palestinian civilians the chance to seek safety in the home of a family member or friend that will be shelled to rubble in the next 48 hours is a gesture we deserve praise for, not condemnation. In fact, this initiative has been a major success in this campaign.” Ya’alon added that since there were numerous bombing sites Palestinians could take shelter in, he was not responsible for whatever happened to people who chose to stay home.

Yesterday's satire is today's news.

The Israeli military sometimes warns people of certain regions in Gaza to move away from their homes before it bombs or attacks. Some Palestinians have, if at all, just seconds to leave before an attack but many do leave and flee to the school buildings that under control of the United Nations. The schools are opened especially for this and the UN personal is taking care of the refugees and keeps militants and weapons out of its buildings.

It also provides the Israeli military with the exact coordinates of the schools. So guess what happens next:

Israeli shells hit UN shelter in Gaza:

As many as 30 people have been reported killed and 100 injured in the Israeli shelling of a UN school in Gaza that was being used as an emergency shelter.

Al Jazeera's correspondent Nicole Johnston, reporting from Gaza, said the school in Beit Hanoun came under shelling on Thursday. She said sources had told Al Jazeera that up up to 30 people had been killed in the bombardment.

The AFP reported a UN official as confirming "multiple dead and injured".

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Robert Turner, the director for UNRWA, the UN's refugee organisation in Gaza, said there was no warning from the Israelis before the shells landed. He confirmed there were casualties.

He said the UNRWA were in contact with Israeli forces about a window to evacuate the school before the attack happened

"This is a designated emergency shelter," he said. "The location was conveyed to the Israelis.

"This is the fourth strike on our installations in three days."

Four attacks on well known refugee centers within three days. Does anyone still believe that such attacks are some random accidents? I don't. Such shelling is pure intentional murder of obvious non-combatants. It is definitely an intentional war crime.

But the U.S still covers for Israel. It was the only country that voted "No" at the UN Human Rights Commission yesterday over an investigation of such Israeli war crimes in Gaza. One killer covering for the other.

Posted by b at 09:58 AM | Comments (119)

July 23, 2014

Ukraine: Reuters Interviews Benedict Arnold: "Rebels Had BUK, Downed MH17"

Updated below

Reuters is currently running a sensational story headlined Exclusive: Ukraine rebel commander acknowledges fighters had BUK missile". There is a big problem with the story. The man in question is not a "rebel commander" and had recently changed sides. He is the Ukrainian Benedict Arnold. About a week ago the federalists had removed him (and a few others) from all positions because they had secretly tried to give control of Donetsk to the coup-government.

The Reuters lede:

A powerful Ukrainian rebel leader has confirmed that pro-Russian separatists had anti-aircraft missiles of the type Washington says were used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

In an interview with Reuters, Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion, acknowledged for the first time since the airliner was brought down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday that the rebels did possess the BUK missile system.

He also indicated that the BUK may have originated in Russia and could have been sent back to remove proof of its presence.

If true that tale would surely fit the story the U.S. administration is peddling but for which it has no evidence.

The New York Times portrait Khodakovsky on June 4 and this part of it is very telling:

In an interview, Mr. Khodakovsky said that he was largely autonomous, that he coordinated on some matters with other separatist military commanders and that he would even turn against the separatist government “if the interests of the politicians and the people diverge.”

Also of interest:

Mr. Khodakovsky declined to provide more information about the militia’s financing or the sources of its weapons.

He denied rumors that he was being backed financially by Rinat Akhmetov, a Donetsk-based oligarch who is arguably the region’s most powerful man, but who has recently taken a strong stance against the separatists. He did say that he had told Mr. Akhmetov once that they have “similar interests” in preserving order.

Despite that denial it had been long acknowledged that the Vostok Battalion Khodakovsky was once leading was founded and paid for by the east-Ukrainian oligarch Akhmetov.

Ahkmetov has made a deal with Kiev, changed his stand and turned against the federalist.

In July some parts of the federalists in Donetsk, those alligned with Ahkmetov, started an internal coup against the federalists. They made a secret deal with the coup-government and where about to give up control over Donetsk. Shortly thereafter that whole groups was purged. The (long) internal story behind this is available here, On Political Perspectives of Novorossia, and one core fact, which Reuters does not mention, is this:

The failure of the "defeatist party" with the surrender of Donetsk (currently effectively all involved are removed from any meaningful political levers in the DPR – Lukyanchenko, Khodakovsky, Pozhidayev – there is also currently unconfirmed information about the possible resignation of Mr. Pushilin) didn't lead to their extinction. ...

Khodakovsky and the others no longer belong to the federalists. They no longer hold federalist positions. Khodakovsky allegedly fled. They have (together with the oligarch Akhmetov) changed sides and made their deal with Kiev.

Now tell me: how reliable are claims by one Benedict Arnold, a man paid by the "enemy" to hand over a federalist city to the imperial regime? Especially when the traitor's claims completely fit the likely false story the CIA advised coup-government in Kiev is trying to plant about the downing of the flight MH-17?

Besides all that, notice that the man Reuters interviewed does not even claim to ever have seen the alleged BUK system. All he is providing is hearsay:

"That BUK I know about. I heard about it. I think they sent it back."

I also heard a lot of things and sometimes I think something. But such does not provide factual knowledge and no court would accept is a proof.

As it leaves out the most important fact, the interviewed guy is no longer with the federalists but now works for Kiev, the Reuters interview is just a part of the U.S. managed information campaign against the federalists and against Russia. Unfortunately few will ever hear of that and are therefore likely to believe the false claims.

Update:

RIA now has (in Russian) a somewhat fishy denial of the Reuters interview by an anonymous spokesperson of Khodakovsky. Machine translation:

Donetsk, July 23 - RIA Novosti. Battalion commander "East" Alexander Khodakovsky denies that he spoke in an interview with Reuters on the alleged use of militias in eastern Ukraine system "Buk", said RIA Novosti on Wednesday a source close to the commander.

"I did not say anything like" Reuters "and I have a recording of a conversation" - quoted the spokesman Khodakovskogo words.

Posted by b at 02:45 PM | Comments (107)

No Evidence - Administration's MH17 Case Against Russia Falls Apart

The federalists fighting in east Ukraine just took down two more SU-25 ground attack fighters that were bombing their positions. The weapons used against these planes are either simple air-defense guns or short ranged missiles unlike the missiles that allegedly took down the Malaysian passenger jet.

The case the Obama administration made against the federalists and Russia in connection with that MH-17 flight is completely falling apart.

Even the aggressive State Department spokesperson has to admit (vid) there is no real evidence at all. The "mountain of evidence" Secretary of State Kerry talked about is nothing but doctored photos and sound files provided by the Ukrainian coup government. One photo, for example, is supposed to show a missile system in federalists hands in a town in east Ukraine. But two reporters asking locals there can not find anyone who has seen the bulky and loud system. The photo is therefore likely a montage.

After being public criticized for showing no real evidence the Obama administration trotted out some "senior intelligence officials" who then admitted that they have nothing, NOTHING, to connect the case to Russia and only vague circumstantial "social media evidence" that federalists COULD have downed the jet:

But the officials said they did not know who fired the missile or whether any Russian operatives were present at the missile launch. They were not certain that the missile crew was trained in Russia, although they described a stepped-up campaign in recent weeks by Russia to arm and train the rebels, which they say has continued even after the downing of the commercial jetliner.

In terms of who fired the missile, "we don't know a name, we don't know a rank and we're not even 100 percent sure of a nationality," one official said, adding at another point, "There is not going to be a Perry Mason moment here," a referenc to a fictional detective who solved mysteries.

Most damning for the case may be this:

The senior intelligence officials said spy agencies were not aware that an SA-11 system was in eastern Ukraine until the attack had happened.

So the alleged transfer of such a big weapon system from Russia was either not observable for the multi-billion dollar, all seeing, all hearing U.S. intelligence or it never happened. Case closed.

But the neolibcons in the Obama administration do not despair yet. The murky Ukrainian company that hired Vice President Biden's son is now paying more lobbyists in Washington. The bribes will flow in bigger amounts. The lies from the Obama administration, and especially from Kerry, will continue as its tries everything possible to restart a Cold War against Russia or, if possible, even a hot one.

Let the Europeans bleed. As long as the U.S. is safe everything is hunky dory.

Posted by b at 08:28 AM | Comments (150)

July 22, 2014

Hamas Win Leaves Netanyahoo and U.S. Position In Shambles

Hamas just won a major victory. The U.S. airlines Delta, USAir and United have suspended indefinitely all flights to and from Israel. This after a rocket fired from Gaza exploded somewhere near the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. After MH-17 came down in Ukraine the sensitivity of possible flight casualties during a conflict has dramatically increased. No airline wants to be the next to loose a plane to some errant missile. This practically closes the only international airport Israel has and will increase the pressure on Israel to accept some of Hamas' conditions for a ceasefire.

That will still take a while though and the slaughter will for now continue. Neither Hamas and the population of Gaza nor the Netanyahoo government and the people in Israel are so far willing to offer any concessions. On both sides the people push their governments to continue the fighting.

There is also no real international pressure for a ceasefire yet. Kerry and his UN clown Ban Ki Moon are in the region and are trying to find a solution that favors Israel. But there is no solutions without accepting Hamas' demands. They will have little luck to find some united Arab push for a compromise or to pressure Hamas. The only parties that could negotiate on behalf and in support of Hamas are Qatar and Turkey. But the Turkish soon-to-be-dictator Erdogan is no longer talking to Obama and has other problems.  The chickens are coming home to roost as "smugglers" from the Islamic State have started to kill Turkish soldiers on Turkey's border to Syria. Qatar is disliked by all other Arab Gulf states plus especially by Egypt for its support of the Muslim Brotherhood.

But Egypt is the other country next to Israel and the U.S. that will have to make concessions to Hamas. The wide opening of the Rafah border that is needed to lift the siege on Gaza can only be done when Egypt fully agrees. Kerry will want to achieve that but when he met the Egyptian dictator Sisi today he and his stuff were made to undergo security controls before entering the palace in Cairo. That was a significant snub and more were likely made during the talks.

The U.S. is simply no longer in a position where it can effectively create political solutions in the Middle East. As Chas Freeman analyzes the Obama administration has, over the recent years, managed to make the mess in the Middle East even messier than it usually is. Its addiction to Israel (and its utter hypocrisy) has ruined its own position:

From the outset, Israel used the “peace process” as a distraction while it created facts on the ground in the form of illegal settlements. Israeli expansionism and related policies have now made Israel’s peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians– and, thus, with Israel’s Arab neighbors – impossible. The United States created the moral hazard that enabled Israel to put itself in this ultimately untenable position. Forty years of one-sided American diplomacy aimed at achieving regional and international acceptance for Israel have thus perversely produced the very opposite – increasing international isolation and opprobrium for the Jewish state.

We will now “cover Israel’s back” at the United Nations as its ongoing maltreatment and intermittent muggings of its captive Arab population complete its international delegitimization and ostracism. We will pay a heavy political price for this stand globally, in the Middle East, and very likely in escalating terrorism against Americans abroad and at home. It may satisfy our sense of honor. But it more closely resembles assisted suicide than a strategy for the survival of Israel and our own position in the Middle East.

With Ben Gurion closed Netanyahoo will soon have to somehow end the war he started, with U.S. support, for no sensible reason. His political position in Israel will then be very weak and even more crazy people than him will come to rule. That again will further reduce the political might of the United States and the region may then, left to itself, finally be able to find a new sustainable balance.

Posted by b at 12:49 PM | Comments (113)

July 21, 2014

Ukraine: New Coup-Government Offense in Donetsk

Hiding behind the false outrage* over the likely accidental destruction of flight MH17 the Ukrainian coup-government launched a severe attack on the city of Donetsk:

The western part of the city has been shelled since 4 a.m. local time (2 a.m. UTC) on Monday from Grad multiple launch rocket systems, local residents told ITAR-TASS. Heavy weapons are used and explosions are heard.

Ukrainian warplanes delivered an air strike by unguided rocket projectiles at the railway station in the city of Donetsk on Monday morning.

There are allegedly several "volunteer groups" on the ground involved on the government side. These are likely groups of the fascist Right Sektor. They are supported by massive armored forces. Unless the federalists have thoroughly prepared their defenses they will likely have to retreat to new positions.

There advantage so far have been unexpected strikes against flank or rearward positions of the attackers. I expect something similar to happen again soon.

*Why would anyone criticize temporarily storing dead bodies in freezer cars?

Posted by b at 07:43 AM | Comments (187)

Hamas Not Yet Informed It Has Lost

Amos Harel reviews the Israeli campaign against the people of Gaza. He concludes:

Despite the optimism of decision-makers in Jerusalem, it seems that Hamas has not yet been informed that it has lost the war.

The Israeli army continues to have the same equipment, training and doctrine problems it had when it lost the 2006 campaign against the people of Lebanon.

The seven soldiers killed by a rocket-propelled grenade were travelling in an M-13 armored personnel carrier, used by the Americans in Vietnam and by the IDF since the 1970s.
...
Questions also arise with regard to the crowding of dozens of soldiers from Golani’s reconnaissance battalion in the house that was hit by rockets. This is one more example of flawed decisions, following the mishap on Saturday, in which an Armored Corps officer and soldier were killed by Hamas fighters emerging from a tunnel.
...
[I]t should be noted that in recent years the IDF has had no experience in ground battles in general and in Gaza in particular. Some of the combat experience was lost with a generation of commanders that retired. Training was also eroded over the last year due to budgetary considerations.

This while Israeli officers find Hamas fighter to be more competent than ever before:

“It was a very hard battle there,” a senior Israeli military official said. “I have to admit that we were facing good fighters from the other side.”

The Israeli army continues to excel in the genocidal killing of whole families when one member may or may not be somewhat related to the resistance. This morning a house in Rafah was bombed and at least 11 member of the same family were all killed. Another house was destroyed in Khan Younes where 17 24 27 member of another family were killed. It is such outrageous behavior that makes the world public turn against Israel.

Netanyahoo's war was launched to prevent the creation of a Palestinian unity government. His aim is to keep Gaza and the whole Palestinian cause drowned in formaldehyde. But that will no longer work. Hamas and the people of Gaza will not agree to a ceasefire without receiving any benefit in form of more open borders and the lifting of the Israeli/Egyptian siege:

[T]hose within Hamas who saw the crisis as an opportunity to put an end to Weissglass’s [formaldehyde] regime gained the upper hand. So far, they appear to have the majority of the population with them, because they seem to prefer death by F-16 to death by formaldehyde.

Posted by b at 06:31 AM | Comments (38)

July 19, 2014

Ukraine: Financial Rating Propaganda Likely To Fail

International credit rating agencies like S&P are nothing but political instruments. Consider this from July 11:

Ukraine had its credit-rating outlook raised to stable from negative by Standard & Poor’s after the country obtained a $17 billion bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund.
...
“Full disbursement of the IMF program and related multilateral lending should enable Ukraine to meet its external financing needs over the next year,” S&P analysts said in an e-mailed statement.

Now compare that with a real world report from July 17:

The IMF now expects Ukraine's economy to shrink by 6.5% this year, compared with 5% at the time the emergency loans were agreed. GDP stagnated last year.

Ukraine's government is spending more than expected on security as it battles the separatists. Having lost control of parts of the country, revenue collection is also falling behind schedule.

And state gas firm Naftogaz is struggling to force customers to pay their debts.
...
"The program hinges crucially on the assumption that the conflict will begin to subside in the coming months," the IMF said. "A significant prolongation of the crisis would seriously strain their ability to [reform the economy] without a substantial increase in external support on adequate terms."

The IMF more explicitly formulated: "Expect more of your money being wasted on the Nazis in Kiev."

Fortunately, after the rating disaster of mortgage bonds and derivatives that led to the financial crisis, smart real world investors have become mostly immune of the rating companies' nonsense, diminishing their influence further into the pure propaganda territory. From the last lines of first piece:

Global bond yields showed investors ignored 56 percent of Moody’s and 50 percent of S&P’s rating and outlook changes in 2012, more often disagreeing when the companies said governments were becoming safer or more risky, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The S&P propaganda effort will therefore likely fail.

Posted by b at 03:48 PM | Comments (120)

July 18, 2014

Open Thread 2014-16

News & views other than current issues ...

Posted by b at 02:04 PM | Comments (69)

Current Issues

Gaza, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq.

Other issues here please.

Posted by b at 02:03 PM | Comments (207)

July 17, 2014

Plane Down In Ukraine - Facts? Who Needs Facts?

A Malaysian Boeing 777 with 295 people on board crashed today near Shakhtarsk 50 kilometer east of Donetsk, Ukraine.

The appropriate key for "western" journalist to press now is this one.

Over the now coming propaganda shit-storm the recent defeat of the coup-government troops will likely stay unreported.

Posted by b at 12:55 PM | Comments (269)

More Sanctions On Russia After Ukrainian Forces Defeated

Six days ago the Ukrainian troops fighting local federalists in the south-east were hit hard by an artillery barrage and had major losses. This map shows their locations of the four nominal brigades on the right bottom in a narrow south-eastern strip along the Russian border. The plan for these troops was obviously to cut off the federalists from the Russian border and to surround them. But that risky plan on a thin logistic string worked against them. Repeated artillery attacks and disorganization have left them incapable of further advances.


bigger

The Ukrainian troops have now themselves been surrounded and are cut off from their resupplies. Their attempts to break out of the encirclement failed and they can now either flee to Russia or surrender to the federalists:

Earlier on Wednesday the press service of the DPR told ITAR-TASS that its militiamen had divided the Ukrainian military units into “several sectors” in the areas of the Amvrosievka, Izvarino and Saur-Mohila localities near the Russian border.

The Ukrainian military units attempted to form a convoy and head for the port city of Mariupol, but failed as the DPR fighters encircled them.

In recent days the Ukrainian armed forces had suffered serious losses, and support to their rear services had been axed, the press service said adding that the army units were trying to retreat covering their rear.

The Ukrainian troops seem to be desperate with little left to better their situation.

It is this desperate military situation of the Ukrainian coup-government troops, I believe, that let Obama put new sanctions on Russian companies. The European Union did not follow up with sanctions of its own and the damage to the Russian economy will thereby be very limited. It was a stupid and self defeating step for Obama to take. What U.S. companies, including the oil majors, will now still be welcome in the rather large Russian market?

The military situation as well as the propaganda tide has turned against the U.S. supported coup government in Kiev. Now even the BBC admits that many coup supporters and the "National Guard" forces are Nazis including foreign ones.

Posted by b at 09:06 AM | Comments (84)

July 16, 2014

July 16 Gaza News - "At least they wont breed"

Peter Beaumont is Jerusalem correspondent of the Guardian and the Observer. This is what he experienced in Gaza today:

Today was a personal low point - giving first aid with colleagues to two children wounded by shrapnel on Gaza beach on terrace of our hotel

Four kids with them were killed in same incident all from same extended family

1st shell hit the harbour wall. It's been hit before so I assume its on a prerecorded grid. Gunner appears to have adjusted to hit survivors

who were an adult and three boys

Earlier he wrote:

no warning shot. kids killed by first round, then gunner adjusted and bracketed the survivors. i was 200m away

His longer report is now online. The kids were helping their father/uncle fixing fishing nets. The targeted artillery rounds came from an Israeli warship. Killed were Ahed Atef Bakr 10, Zakaria Ahed Bakr 10, Mohamed Ramez Bakr 11, Ismael Mohamed Bakr 9. An "Israel Activist and media monitor" responded to the news of the four killed children by writing:

At least they wont breed

Today Israel also intentionally hit the Wafa Hospital in Gaza with a smaller missile. The hospital is completely crowded with patients and the missile was considered a "warning shot" that might be followed up with a bigger attack. There is no place for the the people in the hospital to flee to.

The Israeli press now confirms what we wrote yesterday: Secret call between Netanyahu, al-Sissi led to cease-fire plan

Haaretz has learned that the PM spoke to the Egyptian president in a secret phone call prompted by Quartet envoy Tony Blair.

It was Tony Blair who arranged the scam cease-fire which Hamas rejected. Neither Hamas nor anyone else in Gaza was ever consulted about it and they learned of it only through the media. Peace between two parties can obviously not be achieved by only talking to one of them.

Instead of that stop-the-guns-but-don't-consent-on-anything-else scam by Tony Blair Hamas today offered a real and reasonable deal for a long term truce:

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have submitted a list of 10 demands to Egypt to establish a 10-year truce with Israel, the Hebrew-language daily Maariv reported Wednesday.
...
The first demand, according to Maariv, is the withdrawal of Israeli military tanks from the border fence area to a distance that enables Gaza farmers to access their fields and tend them freely.

In addition, Israel must free all Palestinian prisoners detained after the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the southern West Bank including those who were freed as part of Gilad Shalit prisoner swap. This precondition also includes softening procedures against all prisoners in Israeli custody.

A third demand stipulates that Israel ends the crippling siege on the coastal enclave, which means reopening all border crossings and allowing the entry of construction materials and all requirements needed to run the Gaza Strip’s power station.

The fourth demand stipulates the opening of an international seaport and international airport in the Gaza Strip to be run and monitored by the United Nations.
...

All these demands are reasonable and fair and would give Israel, should it be itself reasonable and willing to stick to a truce, 10 years of peace at its southern front.

But to expect reasonablity from Israel when it is killing children for sport may just be a step too far.

Posted by b at 11:41 AM | Comments (121)

July 15, 2014

UK Foreign Minister William Hague Fired - But Why?

Reshuffle Surprise As William Hague Quits As Foreign Secretary , July 15

William Hague surprised Westminster on Monday evening by announcing he would quit as foreign secretary, as David Cameron culled male ministers of all ranks as part of a wide-ranging reshuffle expected to see the promotion of several women to top jobs.

Hmm ...

There is currently another inquiry into pedophile rings in the UK which, allegedly, included major British politicians since the 1960s and several, some seemingly still ongoing, cover-ups by those and other "elite" figures.

Some recent headlines:

Butler-Sloss had to quit the inquiry because she was, allegedly, related to the cover up in an earlier inquiry.

But what does have to do with William Hague? We do not really know.

But could it be that the British PM Cameron, in sight of the 2015 election, considered the recent paedophile flare up and its possible implications together with this older news item when he decided to fire Hague?

Steve Messham said Mr Hague had "questions to answer" over why a public inquiry by Sir Ronald Waterhouse was restricted under terms of reference laid down by the then Welsh secretary.

And, as Jam,es in the comments reminded us, some time ago there was also this curious "incident" with Hague's "special advisor":

Posted by b at 11:51 AM | Comments (63)

Gaza: Hamas Rejects Tony Blair's Cease-fire Scam

The war Netanyahoo launched on the people of Gaza has so far killed over 192, 80% of them civilians, wounded 1,400 people, completely destroyed 990 houses, damaged another 1,700 houses, and created billions of damage to the infrastructure in Gaza, including the already fragile water distribution system. For what?

In total Israel air force and missiles hit more than 2,000 "targets" while some 1,000 rockets were fired from Gaza. No Israeli was killed by the unguided rockets Hamas and other organizations launched from the strip.

This morning there was some talk of a cease-fire allegedly after an agreement was negotiatated by the Egyptian dictator Sisi. Israel's security cabinet immediately accepted it.

But this cease-fire agreement was actually written by the war-criminal and Zionist Tony Blair. No Palestinian had even seen it or was involved in its creation. They learned of the "agreement" through the media. It included nothing but a stop of fighting and some vague promise of further talks. For what then did so many people die?

Hamas and other groups rejected this scam and continued their ineffective rocket fire. Hamas, which has also to keep consensus with more radical Palestinian groups in Gaza, had set several conditions for stopping the fighting:

  • an end to all Israeli attacks on Gaza
  • opening of the border crossings to Israel and Egypt
  • release of the Hamas prisoners Israel, without reason, took in the West Bank over the last three weeks
  • payment by the Palestinian Authority for the government workers in Gaza.

Rocket launches from Gaza have continued over the day and Israel is now back to bombing whatever is left to bomb in Gaza. It's politicians have set the elusive aim of "dismantling Hamas". But Hamas has support of the people and unless all people are killed it will exist and a longer conflict will only make it stronger.

Posted by b at 08:20 AM | Comments (95)

July 13, 2014

#Ger #Arg

Hummels Reveals Germany's Half Time Team Talk

German defender Mats Hummels has revealed that the team agreed at half-time that they would stay professional and try not to humiliate Brazil.

That was appropriately done. The German team would be well advised to do the same with Argentine ;-)

Posted by b at 01:56 PM | Comments (46)

Iran: The Nuclear Negotiations Scam

Four "western" Foreign Ministers flew to Vienna today to further negotiate about Iran's nuclear achievements. It is quite dubious why Kerry thought that such a meeting now would be helpful. It looks like this was planned as an attempt to intimidate Iran into further concessions but failed because neither Russia's nor China's Foreign Minister are attending.

The negotiations are supposed to find a compromise until July 20. After that the negotiations would have to be prolonged for another 6 month which would only give more time to those who are against any deal to sabotage it.

The two sticking points are "breakout capacity" and the length of the period Iran would restrict itself to a certain limits of its industrial nuclear capacities. The "breakout capability" is a quite weird concept described as the total centrifuge capacity and thereby capability to produce enough enriched Uranium for one sole bomb in a certain time frame. Of course no state wanting a nuclear deterrent would use its officially declared, and highly controlled capacities to produce the materials needed. Nor would the reach of a "one bomb" capability be significant in any strategic sense.

But the U.S. negotiators seem to stick to the concept of arbitrarily limiting enrichment capabilities while even very seasoned U.S. proliferation experts find that it not helpful and that it risks to make any deal impossible:

So the most realistic goal in Vienna isn’t to make breakout impossible, but to make it a difficult and unattractive option for Iran. Once you see that as the goal, you realize that the gains in transparency from any likely deal—extremely close monitoring of declared facilities and the power to inspect undeclared facilities—should be at the forefront of American thinking about this problem. It would be a mistake to sacrifice such transparency in a failed attempt to reduce Iran’s breakout capacity by some arbitrary increment that is actually less valuable than many in Washington think it is.

The Chinese and Russian seem see the U.S. concept of "breakout capability" as a sham that is used to sabotage the talks:

Vladimir Evseyev of the Russian state-run CIS institute says Washington’s insistence that Iran shut down uranium enrichment facilities and negotiate on its missile program violates the accords outlining the scope of the talks. The U.S., he said, wants negotiations to “to be lengthy and painful,” so as to keep sanctions in place for its own political agenda.

Diplomats familiar with the talks say Moscow shares Washington’s desire to reach a deal but is significantly less demanding of Tehran. While the U.S. wants deep cuts in Iranian programs that could be used to make nuclear arms, Russia would settle for pervasive monitoring, they say.

The Chinese and Russians are agreeing with the U.S. proliferation experts. The "breakout capability" is nonsense and good monitoring is much more important than any numerical capacity restriction.

That "western" states use the concept of "breakout capacity" at all can only be interpreted as their unwillingness of reaching a deal with Iran.

Posted by b at 11:07 AM | Comments (26)

July 11, 2014

Ukraine: Pro-Coup-Government Forces Hit Hard

The pro-federation forces in east Ukraine seem to have severely hit the coup-government's army which is attempting to surround and attack them.

The Ukrainian 79th and 24th brigades from Lviv, western Ukraine, bunched up over night in some place around Zelenopliya between the south-eastern rebel positions and the nearby Russian border. They were hit by a barrage of grad rockets fired by the pro-federation forces. First pictures available on the Internet show many destroyed vehicle - main battle tanks, APCs, trucks - probably the result of secondary (ammunition) explosions.

The not yet confirmed casualty count is 67 killed and 175 wounded government soldiers.

This major loss could lead to a new assessment of the situation by the government side and then to serious attempts to negotiate a ceasefire. It could also lead to further military escalations.

Posted by b at 08:55 AM | Comments (115)

Gaza: The Media Coverage

This Latuff cartoon is spot on:

There have, as of now, 103 people killed in Gaza with more than 700 people injured. Most of them are women, children and elderly. 200 houses were completely destroyed and more than 1,500 houses partially damaged.

On the Israeli side no one was killed and one person was injured after a gas station, allegedly, was hit and exploded.

About 800 Israeli bombs have hit Gaza while some 400 unguided missiles were launched from Gaza onto Israel proper. A Israeli Defense Force spokesperson boosted that the IDF hits the densely populated Gaza every 4 1/2 minutes and would continue to do so.

But, despite reporting in Jewish media that Netanyahoo obviously planned and started this war, main stream media continue to depict the Jewish side as the sole victim of this very one sided conflict.

Posted by b at 08:11 AM | Comments (118)

July 10, 2014

Open Thread 2014-15

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:50 PM | Comments (108)

July 09, 2014

What Does Netanyahoo Want?

After Kerry's fake peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians predictably failed, the Palestinians decided to form a unity government. Hamas and the PLO under Abbas would create a common technocrat government to have more legitimacy for their next efforts in the international realm for the Palestinians' rights. Israel decided to try everything to destroy that effort.

Then three Israeli colonists were kidnapped and killed by some rogue Palestinian clan and under quite murky circumstances. Netanyahoo, despite knowing that the three were dead and who was responsible for it, used the frenzy "search" for the three to dismantle Hamas in the West Bank. He also attacked Hamas in the Gaza strip. The retaliation and escalation then went like clockwork just as Netanyaoo had expected.

A large scale occupation operation against the people of Gaza is now again on the horizon. Such could easily escalate further into a third intifada.

One wonder what Netanyahoo hopes to, in the end, win by this. He can not dismantle Hamas or kill the efforts for the Palestinians' rights. People on both sides, the Palestinians much more though, will suffer. This all will only increases the push to further delegitimize Israel and its occupation.

Posted by b at 01:51 PM | Comments (203)

Sorry Brazil

The football (soccer) game yesterday was somewhat embarrassing for all players and watchers.

Yes, the German team played well with an exceptional emphasis on "team". Everyone worked for everyone. But the Brazilian team was just a shadow of itself. The first German goal came after a massive hole in the Brazilian defense left Müller uncovered during a simple standard situation. The following four goals for Germany within just 6 minutes were all well played and maybe even deserved but against a ridiculously lame defense, a Brazilian midfield that couldn't pass a ball without losing it and an offense that was unable to defeat the German goal keeper Neuer. After the first 30 minutes Brazil was defeated, the Germans stopped playing in earnest and took their pace back to the level of a training game. Had they kept going a double digit win would have been possible or even likely.

Schürrle, coming fresh from the bench in the second half, scored two more without much effort before in the 90th minute a lone Brazilian Oscar was let go by the German defense to score a sole one for Brazil.

The 7:1, bad as it was, wasn't the only defeat for Brazil. the German goalgetter Klose, with now 16 world-championship goals, took the record away from Brazil's Rinaldo. The German team also defeated the Brazilian record for total goals in world-championships.

The fellow Germans with whom I watched felt, like me, sorry for the Brazilians. There was likely too much pressure on them and we were sure that they would have been much better without all those expectations their nation had put onto them.

On Sunday Germany will play against either Argentina or Netherlands. That game will be more difficult than yesterdays shooting spree against Brazil. The ball is round. May the best team win.

Posted by b at 12:08 PM | Comments (50)

July 08, 2014

The ISIS Is A U.S. Tool "Conspiracy Theories"

Is ISIS a creation of the United States government?

I do not have enough data to judge on that question. My gut instinct on this trends towards "no." But there is some data that points into the "yes" directions and it seems that many people have judged "yes" on that basis.

In 1957 the CIA and MI6 conspired for regime change in Syria:

The plan called for funding of a "Free Syria Committee", and the arming of "political factions with paramilitary or other actionist capabilities" within Syria. The CIA and MI6 would instigate internal uprisings, for instance by the Druze in the south, help to free political prisoners held in the Mezze prison, and stir up the Muslim Brotherhood in Damascus.

Starting from that confirmed conspiracy Mohsen Abdelmoumen suggests with some current data that a similar plan, with the endgame of breaking up Syria and Iraq, is in motion and that ISIS is an instrument in this.

Al-Maydeen TV, a Lebanese channel allegedly financed by Iran or Syria or Hizbullah or someone else, interviewed the Egyptian Sheikh Nabeel Naiem. The 40 minutes interview with English subtitles and a transcript can be found here. Sheikh Nabeel Naiem (the transliteration of the name may be wrong) claims to have been with Bin Laden in Afghanistan and explains why he believes that ISIS is a U.S. project using Jihadis to incite a "100 year war" between Sunni and Shia in the Middle East. The sheikh is very critical of the Muslim Brotherhood and I am not sure about some of his more propagandistic claims but he is well read and connects some well known U.S. documents to the current situation on the ground. He also alleges that there is a U.S. plot against the Saudi regime.

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a Lebanese academic and resistance supporter, just adds the facts and concludes on her blog:

[S]everal developments this week reveal that ISIS has effectively become the US’ (and of course Saudi’s) new weapon of choice in confronting the Iran- Hizbullah-Syria-Iraq Axis:

Obama acknowledges that the notion of a “ready-made moderate Syrian force that was able to defeat Assad” was a “fantasy”, and only days later, requests $500 million from Congress to fund this fantasy; the following day, the leader of one of the leading “moderate” Islamist groups Obama was alluding to, the Syrian Revolutionary Front, tells The Independent that the fight against al-Qaeda was “not our problem” and admits that his fighters conduct joint operations with al-Qaeda’s representative in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra; a Kurdish intelligence source reveals to The Telegraph that his people had informed the US and British governments of an imminent ISIS takeover of Mosul but that the warning “fell on deaf ears;” PM Maliki blames the US’ delayed delivery of 36 F16s Iraq had purchased for ISIS’ advance into northern and western Iraq; Netanyahu warns Obama against military intervention in Iraq, arguing “when your enemies are fighting one another, don’t strengthen either one of them. Weaken both;” ISIS declares war on Lebanon.

The facts speak for themselves.

Well? Are these all the facts and do they speak for themselves? I am not ready to decide.

Posted by b at 02:22 PM | Comments (114)

July 07, 2014

Syria: ISIS Against The States

This New York Times op-ed by Matt Atkins is another propaganda piece for the moderate cuddly homegrown al-Qaeda:

[C]an the West meaningfully influence the military situation in Syria while continuing to eschew Islamist groups, now that they are dominant among the rebels? “The Free Syrian Army has been weak and divided,” said Richard Barrett, a former British intelligence official. “And so the Islamic Front is really the only game in town if you want to attack ISIS in Syria.”
...
If Washington and its partners want to push back against both Assad and ISIS at once, they will have to be less squeamish about picking allies in Syria. Otherwise, they may not find any left at all.

The only game in town if one wants to attack ISIS is the Syrian Arab Army under Bashar al-Assad. Anything else is just wishful thinking.

In a few month the Islamic Front will no longer exist. It will vanish like that phantasy of a Free Syrian Army. Parts of it will swear allegiance to the Islamic State, parts will give up fighting and parts will change over to the government side. Then the real war against ISIS will start.

As there is no alternative in sight Iraq will then likely still be ruled by Prime Minister Maliki despite U.S. demands for regime change. He will receive weapons, intelligence and advice from Russia and Iran. Unlike Syria Iraq will even be able to pay for those. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps will help Maliki to build up a force of strong (religiously) motivated national guard battalions which will be the manpower needed to reconquer and hold the cities ISIS has so far taken.

By the end of the year ISIS will be squeezed from the west, south and east by Syrian and Iraqi government forces and from the north by the Kurd. The ISIS (or IS) will meanwhile implement the Management of Savagery (recommended) before it really starts to consolidate its caliphate.

While ISIS has plundered lots of weapons and resources it still lacks the political and military dimensions of a nation state. With overwhelming air and artillery power the Iraqi and Syrian government sides can and will win the bloody and ferocious war.

Posted by b at 01:19 PM | Comments (88)

July 06, 2014

Ukraine: Retreat From Slaviansk Far From End Game

The Saker is somewhat depressed that the insurgents in east Ukraine retreated from Slaviansk. But that retreat was in good order and with few losses despite being surrounded by enemy forces. As their commander Strelkov explains there was no way Slaviansk could be defended against superior artillery and air superiority with little means to counter those.

Strelkov is now setting up defenses in Donetsk which is a nuch bigger city with more resources and likely easier to defend. As the Ukrainian army and the National Guard stormtroopers from the Right Sektor now move forward they may soon find that they have some "left behind" enemies in their back who can seriously influence their operations.

Supporters of the insurgents seem to blame Russia's President Putin for lack of (visible) support. But that is, in my view, thinking too small. It is far too early to have any idea of who has won or lost in Ukraine. What Putin is currently trying to do, with growing success, is to separate the Europeans from the ever meddling United States. Last Thursday a new agreement on a ceasefire was negotiated and agreed upon with Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine at the table. When the German chancellor Merkel informed U.S. President Obama about it it was the U.S. which again threatened Russia and urged the Ukrainian President Poroshenko to continue his "Anti-Terrorist Operation". The Germans and French will have taken note of this and will again move a bit more further towards the Russian side.

In judging the current situation I agree with Anatol Karlin who finds that Putin is playing a clever but cynical game:

[T]he lack of *direct* [Russian] intervention is more likely just the product of a series of cold calculations that show it more likely to be effective in a few months than today, when:

a) The Ukrainian Army has become weaker and more demoralized;

b) Photos of bisected, bloodied, and burnt corpses have been filling the Russian and international airwaves for a few months;

c) The resolve of the West and its unity are weaker;

d) The Russian economy is more prepared for any sanctions that are forthcoming; and

e) Austerity is biting Ukraine hard, and (gas-less) winter is coming.

Too bad that it is the residents of Donetsk who will be playing the blood price for this.

The Twisted Genius (TTG), who is former Green Beret trained in creating and directing local insurgencies, has a somewhat similar take on the situation:

[Putin] he is another hard hearted empath. He knows that Novorossiya must be forged from fire if it is to survive. They must want it and be willing to fight for it themselves.
...
Additionally, Putin disdains the West’s penchant for R2P and aggressive interference in the affairs of others. He will move if he thinks it is necessary and when he thinks it is necessary. For now, I believe he is content to provide covert support as necessary, push for a real ceasefire and political solution, and bide his time as a new nation that intends to span from Kharkov to Oddessa and Transnistria births itself.

Posted by b at 10:58 AM | Comments (236)

July 04, 2014

Germany Getting Ready To Divorce U.S. Ally

From recent talks and discussions in Germany I conclude that the U.S. is losing more and more support and sympathies. The admiration of earlier times has turned into disgust. While a lot of higher politicians and some journalists still cling to some (well paid) myth of U.S. friendship the party base in all political parties as well as the general public has changed its opinion.

The NSA spying headlines are only one, though important issue. Consider how you would feel about such an intrusive "ally":

The German constitution, as interpreted by the constitutional court, defines privacy as a basic human right. That the U.S. is so casually violating the basic human rights of all German citizens is met with utter disgust. Even the paid and trained Atlantic Council (a U.S. lobby) trolls in German news-site comments have problem defending this issue.

But the NSA spying is not the only problem. The economic breakdown after 2008 clearly had its roots in the United States and is, in Germany, blamed on lax U.S. regulations. And while Germany itself pressed for a change in government in Ukraine the outbreak of violence, the bloody coup and the fighting in the east is considered as "Fuck the EU" U.S. intervention in European affairs.

It may still take a decade or more but my sense is that the U.S.-German alliance in on its way to an unfriendly divorce. Something that 15 years ago seemed unthinkable.

Posted by b at 11:28 AM | Comments (168)

July 02, 2014

Stephen Walt Confuses Marketing Claims With Products

I admire Stephen Walt for his work exposing the Israel Lobby in the United States and I do like his general realist position. But this is some serious claptrap nonsense not worth the electrons it is traveling on:

All three post-Cold War presidents have made their fair share of errors, but there is a common taproot to many of their failings. That taproot has been the pervasive influence of liberal idealism in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, an influence that crosses party lines and unites Democratic liberal internationalists with Republican neoconservatives. The desire to extend liberalism into Eastern Europe lay behind NATO expansion, and it is a big reason that so-called liberal hawks jumped on the neocon bandwagon in Iraq. It explains why the United States tried to export democracy to Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East, instead of focusing laser-like on al Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks.

This is utter bullshit. All the "liberal idealism" is just a marketing ploy to sell imperial wars for global hegemony. The wars and actions of the post cold-war presidents had nothing to do with liberalism and all to do with resource grabs and general hatred against any independent entity.

If there were a "liberal idealism" based foreign policy how could the U.S. be allied to the Saudis, to a colonial Israel and dozens of nefarious dictatorships throughout the world? When have the neocons or the liberal interventionists ever argued for overthrowing the Saudi regime or the playstation king dictator of Jordan?

Any talk of "liberty" or "promoting democracy" by Washington think tanks and politicians is ALWAYS just a marketing argument that has nothing to do with the real products they are peddling.

That a supposed realist is selling this false claim of "We are only exporting liberal values. If that creates a mess it was not intended" is disturbing especially because the reality is quite different. The creation of the "mess" is what the policy intends and its result.

Here Noam Chomsky looks at the factual record of the real U.S. foreign policy and finds that it is nothing but a corporate protection racket that has nothing to do do with "liberal idealism".

After the cold war ended and the "threat" of the Soviet Union vanished Washington continued to rape other countries just like before. With the "threat of communism" gone it simply used different arguments, all of the false, to sell the rape of Panama, El Salvador, Iraq (twice), Afghanistan, Libya and other not so open wars.

Non of these wars had anything to do with "liberal idealism". That claim only helped to sell the wars at home. In none of these wars and their aftermath were "liberal ideals" any concern for those who implemented U.S. policies. The money spend in and after these wars ended in the pockets of U.S. fat cats and the policies implemented in those foreign countries were only to ensure that those countries would stay enslaved to Washington's demands.

How a "realist" studying the actual historical records can not see that is beyond me.

Posted by b at 02:14 PM | Comments (103)

 
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