Somewhere, a British spy is wanking to your last naked video chat:
The document estimates that between 3% and 11% of the Yahoo webcam imagery harvested by GCHQ contains "undesirable nudity". Discussing efforts to make the interface "safer to use", it noted that current "naïve" pornography detectors assessed the amount of flesh in any given shot, and so attracted lots of false positives by incorrectly tagging shots of people's faces as pornography.
How much "desirable nudity" do those GCHQ analysts look at?
There seems to be more concern at the GHCQ for "protecting" its staff from seeing some pornography-like pictures than there is for the privacy of millions of normal people. Is that the right balance?
Those who argue against these untargeted "collect it all" attempts by the spy agencies will soon be confronted with this counter-argument: "People who show "undesirable nudity" during their webchats are severely hindering the essential work NSA and GHCQ do. They are thereby objectively SUPPORTING THE TERRORISTS!"
Open Thread 2014-04
News & views ...
A Few Ukraine Coup Links
A collection of interesting reads on how the putsch in the Ukraine happened and the background behind it.
Max Blumenthal is looking at the historic background of the Nazi groups in the Ukraine and there relation with Ukrainian exile groups in the United States. The connections are deeper than one might have thought:
Many surviving OUN-B members fled to Western Europe and the United States – occasionally with CIA help – where they quietly forged political alliances with right-wing elements. “You have to understand, we are an underground organization. We have spent years quietly penetrating positions of influence,” one member told journalist Russ Bellant, who documented the group’s resurgence in the United States in his 1988 book, “Old Nazis, New Right, and the Republican Party.”
In Washington, the OUN-B reconstituted under the banner of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), an umbrella organization comprised of “complete OUN-B fronts,” according to Bellant. By the mid-1980’s, the Reagan administration was honeycombed with UCCA members, with the group’s chairman Lev Dobriansky, serving as ambassador to the Bahamas, and his daughter, Paula, sitting on the National Security Council. Reagan personally welcomed Stetsko, the Banderist leader who oversaw the massacre of 7000 Jews in Lviv, into the White House in 1983.
Paula Dobriansky was on of the neo-cons in the Bush administration:
According to her State Department biography, Dobriansky's background includes having "lectured and published articles, book chapters, and op-ed pieces on foreign affairs-related topics, ranging from U.S. human rights policy to East European foreign and defense policies, public diplomacy, democracy promotion strategies, Russia, and Ukraine.
The current lead on Eastern Europe in the State Department is "fuck the EU" neo-con Victoria Nuland. The coup in Kiev was a neo-con project.
Also this comment by markfromireland at Ian Welsh's blog:
To eliminate Russia as a threat to American hegemony you need to hive of The Ukraine and use it as a forward post against Russian resurgence.
This is why the Americans have been exerting massive pressure on the European Commission and on European governments to bring the Ukraine into the North American/North Western European economic sphere. With the UKraine in the “Western” camp they can stymie Russian efforts to drag the Baltic Republics back into orbit around Russia. Without it that becomes far more difficult.
There are allegations in the following piece that parts of the neo-nazis that attacked the police in Kiev have been trained in NATO countries. I have not verified this but it seems plausible: Ukraine: Neo-Nazi Criminal State Looming In Centre Of Europe – Analysis
A number of NATO-sponsored training centers for the Ukrainian ultranationalist militants were opened on the territory of the Baltic states immediately after they joined NATO in 2004. The detailed photo report on a Ukrainian group taking a course of subversive activities at a NATO training center in Estonia in 2006 is available here (texts in Russian).
Abundant financial and human resources were directed to bolster the paramilitary units of the radical UNA-UNSO, Svoboda and other ultranationalist organizations in the Ukraine. Since 1990s these thugs were participating in the Chechen and Balkan wars on the side of radical Wahhabi (!) militants and committing war crimes against captured Russian and Serbian soldiers and civilian population. One of the notorious guerilla fighters of the Ukrainian origin in Chechnya, Olexander Muzychko (aka criminal leader Sasha Biliy) today is heading a brigade of “Pravyi Sector”, the radical militant driving force of the ongoing coup d’état in Kiev.
There have been reports, also mentioned in the above, from Russian sources that, allegedly, Israeli special forces were involved with the anti-semitic neo-Nazis in the Ukraine. That may sound implausible until you recognize that Israeli state policy is to move as many Jews as possible to Israel. To frighten those who still want to stay in their native country by promoting anti-semitic forces makes sense withing this (in itself anti-semitic) policy frame:
For the life of me, I don’t understand the Jews living in France. I don’t understand the Jews living in Poland. I don’t understand the one Jew living in Afghanistan (nor the one living in Eritrea) and I can’t believe there are still 100 Jews in Egypt, Algeria, Iraq or Botswana. I don’t understand the Jews living in the Ukraine and, to be honest, I don’t much understand the Jews living in America either.
But seriously — if you are a Jew living in the Ukraine today, why aren’t you packing your bags? If you are a Jew living in France, do you really expect it to get better? And, if you are a Jew living in the US, do you expect your grandchildren to still be Jewish?
Chinahand aka Peter Lee explains how the U.S., by threatening sanctions on one oligarch, managed to change the majority in the Ukrainian parliament against Yanukovich: Looks Like US Played Hardball in the Ukraine...and Against the EU:
So, by a less-than-generous view, it might be suspected that the United States encouraged demonstrators to break the truce, with the expectation that violence would occur and Yanukovich’s equivocal fat cat backers, such as Akhmetov, would jump ship because the US had already informed them that their assets in the West would be at risk under US and EU sanctions.
If this is the case, the EU perhaps has additional reason to feel sore and resentful at the US. By blowing up the truce and the transition deal, Nuland got Yanukovich out and “Yats”—the preferred US proxy, Arseniy Yatsenyuk—in, but at the cost of terminally alienating the Ukraine’s pro-Russian segment—a segment, it might be pointed out, was actually able to elect Yanukovich in a free and fair election a while back.
I do not expect any Russian move on the Ukraine. Putin will now sit back and let the "west" squabble about who will throw tons of money into the bottomless pit that Ukraine is going to become. No politician in Kiev who wants to be re-elected will dare to sign an IMF agreement that will send a generation of the Ukrainian people into deep poverty. Unless there are nazi-progroms in Russian affiliated parts of the Ukraine Putin now just has to wait for the apple to fall from the tree.
Ukraine: NSA "Leak" As A Threat To Merkel
The United States and the EU disagree about the Ukraine. The Europeans would prefer not to incite the Russians (hey, they deliver the gas that heats our homes) and would prefer some compromise outcome in the Ukraine. That was the very reason why the EU financial offer to the Ukraine was paltry to begin with and had to be rejected. The U.S. wants a confrontation with Russia and a totally compliant puppet regime in Ukraine. While Merkel would like to install her protege boxer Klitschko in the Ukraine she does not want to pay for it - at least not much. The U.S. dislikes Merkel's choice and wants to install its own oligarch. That the very reason why the neocon U.S. assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland said "fuck the EU".
Now the U.S. managed to take down the political structure in the Ukraine and it wants to take over the whole show. But it still wants Europe, especially Germany, to pay for the mess.
Because the offer was so weak, the door was open for Mr. Putin to sabotage it and for Mr. Yanukovych to reject it. Now the European Union needs to come back with a better offer — not just association, but membership.
Ms. Merkel must now show courage and strategic competence. If Eastern Europe becomes unstable, Germany will be affected too — and deeply so. Only Berlin has the necessary weight and connections to bring all key players on board to make significant change possible.
Interesting how the "west" is now reduced to Berlin paying up - and nothing else is meant here. And notice that little threat if "Eastern Europe becomes unstable, Germany will be affected too"? "Nice house you have there. Too bad if something would happen to it."
There was an additional reminder this weekend for Mrs Merkel that she better do what she is told:
The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has stepped up its surveillance of senior German government officials since being ordered by Barack Obama to halt its spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel, Bild am Sonntag paper reported on Sunday.
Bild am Sonntag said its information stemmed from a high-ranking NSA employee in Germany and that those being spied on included Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, a close confidant of Merkel.
A "high-ranking NSA employee in Germany" talking to Germany's most pro-U.S. broadsheet is not a whistle blower but an official issuing an authorized leak meant as a threat.
The notice to Merkel: Pay up and don't even think of brokering a deal with Putin behind our back.
Do Svidanya Sochi
The Russians delivered tremendous Olympic games with beautiful shows, interesting competitions and with humor and love.
The "western" media did their best to denigrate the games even before they started. The U.S. government put out ridiculous terror warnings to keep its citizens away from the games. U.S. journalists spitted about alleged double toilet bowl stalls which were obviously photographed during renovation works. Russia was portrayed as homophobic.
But the games were beautiful. There was no terror, no gay bashing and the organization was as perfect as it can be. Where things went wrong they were resolved with humor and good will.
That one Olympic ring that did not open correctly during the opening ceremony? It was reflected on in the closing ceremony when dancers humorously re-enacted that faulty ring opening with the faulty one eventually opening too. Make a mistakes, laugh about it and correct it. That's Russia!
The idea to use the floor of the Fisht stadium as a huge projection screen was great. The use of the stadium roof as a gigantic multiple crane runway for moving objects and people in a third stage level was brilliant. Projections, lightning, music and fireworks all were used to perfection.
The themes: Russian art, Russian ballet, Russian classic music, Russian literature, Russian history, Russian circuses. It was all about Russia the Great. And beautiful. The closing: a poetic invitation to self reflection in large levitating mirrors. The big bear mascot dropping a tear as the flame goes out. Hollywood can do no better.
There were also great tributes to all the athletes and their efforts, struggles and victories. The Wall Street Journal had predicted 27 medals for Russia, 6 of them gold. Russian athletes won 33 medals, 13 of them gold. Predicted for the United States 32(13), achieved 28(9). Take that you party-poopers.
The Russians will be very proud of these games. They will be grateful to their government and president for having delivered them. The internal and external message is understood: Russia has again found itself and it is stronger than ever.
The U.S. is ill informed about and underestimating Russia. Therein lies the possibility of serious miscalculations.
Ukraine: Move To Replace The President Is Illegal
The Ukrainian opposition claims it wants to associate with the European Union because they desire the rule of law. Why do they then break the law and try to illegally remove the elected president from his office?
The parliament now says it has temporarily handed the president's powers to speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, a top ally of gas oligarch Yulia Tymoshenko. But that move certainly did not follow Article 111 (impeachment) of the Ukrainian constitution:
- The President of Ukraine may be removed from office by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by the procedure of impeachment, in the event that he or she commits state treason or other crime.
- The issue of the removal of the President of Ukraine from office by the procedure of impeachment is initiated by the majority of the constitutional composition of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
- To conduct the investigation, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine establishes a special temporary investigatory commission whose composition includes a special procurator and special investigators.
- The conclusions and proposals of the temporary investigatory commission are considered at a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
- For cause, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, by no less than two-thirds of its constitutional composition, adopts a decision on the accusation of the President of Ukraine.
- The decision on the removal of the President of Ukraine from office by the procedure of impeachment is adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by no less than three-quarters of its constitutional composition, after the review of the case by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and the receipt of its opinion on the observance of the constitutional procedure of investigation and consideration of the case of impeachment, and the receipt of the opinion of the Supreme Court of Ukraine to the effect that the acts, of which the President of Ukraine is accused, contain elements of state treason or other crime.
As far as I can tell none of the highlighted points have been met. Replacing the president through a simple vote is clearly illegal. It is also breaking the agreement achieved two days ago with the pressure from three EU ministers.
Instead of leaving the place as had been agreed the fascist groups on the Maidan are growing with more radicals arriving. In the east pro Russian Ukrainians are preparing self defense groups.
By each hour the situation is getting more and more out of control. The sorcerers apprentices, though not admitting it yet, are now helpless. Who will be the first to call up Moscow and to ask Putin for help?
Syria: Fragmented Insurgents Can Not Win
The opposition situation in Syria is further fragmenting leaving the anti-Syrian forces with no real structure to work with.
The U.S. and the Orwellian named "friends of Syria" first supported Burhan Ghalioun as the head of the Syrian National Council. The next white men's hope was Moaz al Khatib. Then came one Ghassan Hitto. Then the Muslim Brotherhood organisation Syrian National Council was widened into the Syrian National Coalition and the Saudis installed Ahmad al-Jarba as its leader. The U.S. then promoted Salim Idriss and his Supreme Military Council as its favorite. Meanwhile the Syrian National Coalition kicked out the original exile opposition group Syrian National Council.
Last week Salim Idriss was kicked out as leader of the Supreme Military Council and replaced by the rather unknown Abdul-Ilah al Bashir. Idriss, together with nine of his commanders and their groups, is fighting back. Another insurgency leader who currently leads an outlet named Syrian Revolutionaries Front, Jamal Maarouf, is lobbying in Washington to become the new favorite U.S. assets.
The myriad fighting "brigades" are seemingly changing their allegiances by the day depending on who is willing to pay them or who offers the better loot. The three Al-Qaeda affiliates, ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham are fighting each other with ISIS today killing Ahrar al-Sham leader Abu Khalid al-Suri who was a personal acquaintance of Osama Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Layth al-Libi.
The chaos within the opposition is predictably helping those who fight against them. In the north and east the Kurdish groups, at peace with the Syrian government, are winning ground. In the south and west the Syrian Arab Army is making steady progress. Local truces, in effect local surrender acknowledgements by insurgent groups, are now regular occurrences. An attempt by U.S. trained forces to take on Damascus, with Pakistani weapons delivered through the Saudis and coming from Jordan, was bombed into the ground before they could show any effect.
The fighting will continue for a while but I am more assured then ever before that the Syrian government will win against the insurrection and the assorted foreign payed mercenaries.
Ukraine: "From the spirits that I called - Sir, deliver me!"
What a deluge! What a flood!
Lord and master, hear my call!
Ah, here comes the master!
I have need of Thee!
from the spirits that I called
Sir, deliver me!
J.W. Goethe - The Sorcerer's Apprentice
The opposition in the Ukraine and its paymasters in the U.S. and EU called up the spirits of the right, the fascist, to wage a coup against the elected president and to push their selfish objectives onto the Ukrainian public.
Now those spirits won't go away:
It was difficult to know how much of the fury voiced on Friday night in Independence Square was fiery bravado, a final cry of anger before the three-month-long protest movement winds down or the harbinger of yet more and possibly worse violence to come.
Vividly clear, however, was the wide gulf that had opened up between the opposition’s political leadership and a street movement that has radicalized and slipped far from the already tenuous control of politicians.
Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of Right Sector, a coalition of hard-line nationalist groups, reacted defiantly to news of the settlement, drawing more cheers from the crowd.
“The agreements that were reached do not correspond to our aspirations,” he said. “Right Sector will not lay down arms. Right Sector will not lift the blockade of a single administrative building until our main demand is met — the resignation of Yanukovych.”
Even if Yanukovych resigns the demands of the fascist rioters will not end. Ukraine's chief rabbi tells Kiev's Jews to flee city and he has very good reasons to do so. Right Sector and the Svoboda party are well known for accute anti-semitism.
Yesterday sixty eight members of the ruling party of the regions changed over to the opposition which now has a majority in parliament. The parliament then changed the constitution to dismantle presidential powers, fired the interior minister who commanded the police force to defend government buildings and freed the corrupt gas-princess Tymoshenko from jail.
Putin will be smiling.
What the propagandists in the "west" always fail to mention is that Tymoshenko was jailed for a gas deal that favored Russia. She was in jail for agreeing to pay, allegedly, too high prices. Yanukovych, the man Putin hates and despises as a loser, is now out. Tymoshenko, the woman Putin loves signing lucrative trade deals with, is in. As the Ukrainian industry is not viable without access to Russian markets and the Ukrainian energy supply depends on Russian gas deliveries Moscow still has, and will continue to have, the upper hand over the Ukraine. At least half of the Ukrainian population is pro-Russian. No color revolution version 1.0, 2.0 or 3.0 and no IMF austerity loan will change those facts.
Parts of the Ukraine will soon show signs of anarchy with those that protested and rioted without having any real aim moving towards criminal activities. The opposition, which is now empowered and will have to deliver results, will soon squabble and will again fall apart. The fascist forces, euphemistically called "nationalists" in "western" media, will win more power.
The sorcerer's apprentices in Washington and Brussels will come to understand that they can not control the spirits they called upon. They will need to call the master to put the spirits they awoke back into their holes. The international number they will need to call starts with 007 495.
Anti-China CIA Asset Meets Obama
BEIJING — The Dalai Lama is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama at the White House on Friday morning - their third meeting in four years ...
While the Dalai Lama is being careful not to say things in public that could harm his people back in Tibet, the subject of human rights is likely to come up at the White House. “We are concerned about continuing tensions and the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas of China,” Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement Thursday. She added the United States continues to supports the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” approach to Tibet, which advocates neither assimilation nor independence for Tibetans in Tibet.
Three meeting in four years are more than what senior NATO ally head of states can expect. It is also seriously damaging the relations with China. Why is Obama so eager to meet the Dalai Lama? What does "continue to support the Dalai Lama" mean? Continued, by the way, since the early 1950s ...
The Dalai Lama's administration acknowledged today that it received $1.7 million a year in the 1960's from the Central Intelligence Agency, but denied reports that the Tibetan leader benefited personally from an annual subsidy of $180,000.
The money allocated for the resistance movement was spent on training volunteers and paying for guerrilla operations against the Chinese, the Tibetan government-in-exile said in a statement. It added that the subsidy earmarked for the Dalai Lama was spent on setting up offices in Geneva and New York and on international lobbying.
The Dalai Lama, 63, a revered spiritual leader both in his Himalayan homeland and in Western nations, fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against a Chinese military occupation, which began in 1950.
The National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA related, Congress funded venture, is still spending lots of money on Tibetan groups related to the Dalai Lama. And that is only the publicly acknowledged part.
The people the Dalai Lama leads are, like the Jihadists in Libya and Syria and the Fascists in the Ukraine, very reactionary forces. Even their functionaries have to admit that the old society they wish to somewhat reestablish was an authoritarian, backward mess:
[A]ccording to the Chinese version of Tibet's history, before its "peaceful liberation" in 1951 (when Tibet was required to recognize Chinese sovereignty), Tibet was a benighted place where a few "feudal" and "reactionary" aristocrats together with monks oppressed a majority population of serfs and slaves, mostly by addling their minds with ritual and superstition. This may sound like Communist propaganda, but Chen Kuiyuan, one of the Chinese technocrats to have ruled Tibet in recent years, didn't exaggerate much when he pointed out in a 1997 speech that "when the Dalai ruled Tibet, there was not a single regular school; children of the working people had no right or opportunity to receive an education, and more than 90 percent of the Tibetan people were illiterate."
Even Samdhong Rinpoche admits this is true ...
How come this CIA asset gets three meetings in four years with this president? Are they cooking up something new against China? A Color Revolution 2.0 scenario like in Libya, Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine?
Ukraine: White House Is "Outraged By Images"
Anti-government protesters aim their weapons during clashes with riot police at Independence Square in Kiev February 18, 2014. (Vasily Fedosenko)
We are outraged by the images of Ukrainian security forces firing automatic weapons on their own people. We urge President Yanukovych to immediately withdraw his security forces from downtown Kyiv and to respect the right of peaceful protest, ...
One wonders what pictures the White House is looking at? Well, of course the real pictures ain't so helpful in pushing for "regime change".
More "outrageous" pictures below the fold ...
The Ukrainian Government Is Fighting Fascists
Some news accounts of yesterday's fighting in Kiev make it look as if the government yesterday started the fighting by clearing the Maidan plaza. That was not the case.
There was an attempt by the opposition in parliament to change the constitution. That attempted was defeated by the dully elected majority coalition. Opposition protester then violently attacked the parliament building and tried to storm it. The police responded to that, pressed the protester back and later proceed to kick them out of their launching position. The violent protesters, mostly fascists, confirmed that timeline of events:
Some protesters acknowledged that they had contributed to the violent spiral of events by attacking police officers during street battles early in the day near the Ukrainian Parliament, which the opposition had hoped would approve constitutional amendments curbing President Yanukovych’s powers.
The Ukrainian government is fighting against well armed fascists, not against peaceful protesters. Doug Saunders of Canada's Globe & Mail recently visited Kiev:
This is the headquarters of Pravy Sektor, or Right Sector, the ultra-right-wing movement, described by some as fascist, whose hundreds of soldiers (they call themselves an army) have become the sharp edge of the two-month-old protest movement that has upturned the politics of Ukraine, cost several lives and forced President Viktor Yanukovych to dismiss the government and promise to reform the constitution.
[T]he physical organization of these protests, the building of barricades around squares, much of the camp construction and policing, and the pitched and sometimes deadly battles with police are almost entirely the work of the extreme right. In some of Ukraine’s smaller cities, the local protests and seizures of government buildings appear to have been entirely the work of Pravy Sektor.
These folks are evil. Let us hope that Yanukovich now finally, though three month too late in my view, is coming down hard on them.
Syria: U.S. Option Review Finds All Are Still Bad
We questioned in Real Or Propaganda? New Weapons To Syrian Mercenaries the report about MANPAD deliveries to mercenaries in Syria. Some U.S. official now claims that the U.S. is opposed to such deliveries. That may well be true but could also be an attempt to achieve plausible deniability. Either way it means that the number of MANPADs going to insurgents will likely be very limited.
The U.S can still not come to terms with a survival of the syrian government under president Assad and is again looking at all the options of what it could do that it had already looked at and found to be bad. They are still all bad. There are some signs of panic though. How else to explain that the administration is asking the guy who helped to lose two wars on how to win one?
Mr. Kerry recently discussed military and intelligence options in Syria in a private meeting with retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 2012, according to an official close to Mr. Petraeus. While CIA director, Mr. Petraeus, a former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan and Iraq, was a leading behind-the-scenes advocate of aiding the rebels in Syria.
None of the new-old options listed in the linked piece, from no-fly zones to training more mercenaries, makes any sense. Syria and its allies would surely successfully counter any of them. But the administration is under constant pressure to do "something" and Obama is a rather weak person and may give in to it.
It is interesting that all the options listed are somehow connected to action in south Syria. The north seems to no longer be in play. Did Turkey, after Erdogan's recent visit to Tehran and with upcoming election, say no to further involvement? The concentration on a southern schwerpunkt might also be the reason why the Syrian Military Council leader Idris was pushed out and replaced with a southern puppet.
In total the state of play in Syria continues to move in favor of the government side. More and more groups agree to truce offers, give up their heavy weapons and essentially concede to have lost the fight. On can indeed argue that the civil war is dying a slow, agonizing death.
CNN Propaganda - "Lone Kid In The Desert" Edition
Yesterday Hala Gorani, "Anchor, CNN's International Desk", tweeted this:
The "4 year-old crossing desert alone" was retweeted over 7,500 time.
But this picture did not look quite right and some people digged into the story. Was that kid really alone in the desert?
Here is a wider shot as provided by Andrew Harper, "UNHCR's Representative to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan".
Hypocrisy Thy Name Is John Kerry - Global Warming Edition
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Secretary of State John Kerry urged Indonesia on Sunday to take steps to combat climate change, warning that failure to act would jeopardize the nation’s resources and damage its economy.
“This city, this country, this region is really on the front lines of climate change,” Mr. Kerry said in a speech. “It’s not an exaggeration to say to you that your entire way of life that you live and love is at risk.”
Rank 12, United States, 19.3 metric tons of CO2 per capita (2007)
Rank 130, Indonesia, 1.8 metric tons of CO2 per capita (2007)
Real Or Propaganda? New Weapons To Syrian Mercenaries
I am not sure what to think about this Wall Street Journal piece. Its alternative headline is Saudis Agree to Place Large Holes in El Al Planes at Some Future Date:
AMMAN, Jordan—Washington's Arab allies, disappointed with Syria peace talks, have agreed to provide rebels there with more sophisticated weaponry, including shoulder-fired missiles that can take down jets, according to Western and Arab diplomats and opposition figures.
Saudi Arabia has offered to give the opposition for the first time Chinese man-portable air defense systems, or Manpads, and antitank guided missiles from Russia, according to an Arab diplomat and several opposition figures with knowledge of the efforts.
I am unsure if this is just scaremongering or real. I doubt that the United States, which largely controls the weapons flow at least to south Syria, as well as its waging tail Israel would ever agree to such. All weapons in Syria can change hands in unpredictable ways.
The U.S. pays and thereby probably believes to control the mercenaries on the ground:
The U.S. for its part has stepped up financial support, handing over millions of dollars in new aid to pay fighters' salaries, said rebel commanders who received some of the money.
It is dubious that the rather loose string of being a replaceable money source gives much control at all.
The Israeli and U.S. plan is to create a buffer zone in the South to enable a further Israeli land grab in the Golan. That is the reason why Israel is supplying and supporting the fighters there.
There are now new threats from Obama to "apply new pressure" on Syria because the second round of the Geneva II talks ended inconclusive. That "new pressure" will be the new weapon supplies. But the WSJ piece makes clears these new supplies have nothing to do with the Geneva II round but were planned much earlier:
Rebel leaders say they met with U.S. and Saudi intelligence agents, among others, in Jordan on Jan. 30 as the first round of Syrian peace talks in Geneva came to a close. That is when wealthy Gulf States offered the more sophisticated weapons.
The U.S. is not letting up from its "regime change" aim. I have long favored some action in Jordan and Turkey to discourage those countries from their support roles for the mercenaries and insurgents. One wonders why the Syrian services seem unable to provide such. Could Russia help?
Anti-Union Vote Will Kill New Tennessee Production Line
Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn., have rejected the United Auto Workers, shooting down the union’s hopes of securing a foothold at a foreign-owned auto plant in the South.
The UAW had advantages in organizing the Volkswagen plant it probably won’t find elsewhere. For starters, Volkswagen — under pressure from the powerful German steelworkers’ union, IG Metall, which holds seats on the company’s board — decided not to resist unionization. The union’s presence would have also allowed the company to set up a German-style “works council,” in which representatives of both workers and middle management offer advice to executives on how to best run the plant.
The workers who voted against the union are stupid. Some rightwing politicians told them that Volkswagen would not build an additional production line there should the workers vote for the union and thereby for a workers council. The boss at the plant denied that. The plant in Chattanooga is now the only major Volkswagen plant without a works council. Such work councils are one of the success factors for Volkswagen.
New production line facilities for Volkswagen are decided by the global board in Germany where the global unions have half minus one of the votes. Where do the people in Tennessee think will those board members put a new production line? At that lone "rebellious" plant where the workers voted against the established management structure that works in the 100+ other Volkswagen factories and for their 550,000 other workers?
More "Democracy Promotion" In Libya
A Libyan military commander on Friday called for the suspension of the interim parliament and the formation of a presidential committee to govern until new elections are held.
"The national command of the Libyan army is declaring a movement for the new road map," Haftar said in a statement in which he said the armed forces were calling for the country to be "rescued" from its upheaval.
Of course no one in Washington will, like in the case of Eygpt, actually call this a "coup". This is another fine moment of U.S. sponsored "democracy promotion."
It is no coincidence that it comes now as the green flag of Ghaddafi's movement is again raised in parts of Libya. Haftar's job will again be to facilitate and support AlQaeda affiliated forces from east Libya against the nationalists who are regaining power in the south and west. But without NATO air support, not likely to come again, Haftar's forces only have a small chance to win.
Open Thread 2014-03
(still busy ...)
News & views ...
Syria: More OpEd Nonsense While NYT Editorial Begins To Make Sense
A rather weird OpEd in the New York Times argues for a military "responsibility-to-protect" intervention to provide "human corridors" to allegedly starving Syrians:
If Russia blocks meaningful international action, and if the Assad regime or any rebel group refuses to allow humanitarian aid into the besieged areas, the sieges must be broken by any means necessary.
We should invoke the Responsibility to Protect, the principle that if a state fails to protect its populations from mass atrocities — or is in fact the perpetrator of such crimes — the international community must step in to protect the victims, with the collective use of force authorized by the Security Council. And if a multinational force cannot be assembled, then at least some countries should step up and organize Syria’s democratically oriented rebel groups to provide the necessary force on the ground, with air cover from participating nations.
So if Russia and China block a Security Council resolution there must be an R2P Security Council resolution which Russia and China would block making any further action obviously illigeal. Then some countries could illegally use military forces to help the no-existing "democratically oriented rebel groups" to provide whatever.
The once blocked Yarmouk Palestinian camp has been cleared from fighters against the government and is back under Palestinian and government control. Nearly half of the 2,000 civilians in a small area within Homs city that was under siege and that also holds several thousand of fighters have left the area. The next big areas which are under siege and in need of relief are the 50,000 people in the Shia towns al-Zahraa and Nubl. They are besieged by insurgents. Are we to believe that "democratically oriented rebel groups" will provide for them? And which country would be crazy enough to send its military to Syria to receive the wrath not only of the Syrian and Russian governments but also of the al-Qaeda oriented jihadis?
Compared to that nonsense the main editorial in today's NYT makes nearly makes sense:
[A] political solution is not out of the question if some right choices are made. The United States, for one, should drop its opposition to including Iran, which supplies arms and other assistance to Mr. Assad, in the negotiations. Russia, another weapons supplier, could send a powerful message to Mr. Assad by suspending its arms deliveries. Saudi Arabia and Qatar could send the same message to Mr. Assad’s opposition by ending weapons deliveries to the rebels. And Turkey could close its border to the foreign fighters that have turned Syria into a cauldron of extremist elements that threaten the entire region.
That is more realistic position than the so far uttered ones in the U.S. editorial world. But isn't it funny that it doesn't mention Jordan where the U.S. trains insurgents, provides them with weapons and then send them off to fight in Syria. Should that, in the mind of the NYT editors, continue?
Interestingly president Obama picked up one issue from that editorial today. In a press confernece with the French president Hollande Obama called on the international community to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Syria.
Was that directed at the Saudis and Turkey?
That Dead Giraffe
I resent lions that gorge cute giraffe babies. It is beastly and nasty when tofu is so delicious. How can a heardless human kill animals to feed lions. Will there be more revelations about zoos killing animals just to feed other animals? That would be a scandal! I am so enraged now, I'll stop reading such news and get me some bacon.
Russian Skieres Show Real Olympic Spirit
The German skiers in Sochi received brand new skis but still needed to grind them. A day before the races started the grinding machine they had brought with them broke down. Without appropriate grinding chances for any success in the competitions were low.
The Austrian and the Swiss team were asked for help but declined. The Russians, without a fuzz, showed Olympic spirit and helped. They offered their grinding machine. During one night over 40 pairs of skis were prepared for the German team.
Some of the German skiers, as well as some of their Russian competitors, are in serious competitive range of medals. The Russian, due to their graciousness, may have given away some Bronze, Silver or even Gold medal.
They, unlike the Russia bashing "western" media, showed real Olympic spirit. May the best win.
original report (in German)
U.S. EU United To Overthrow Democracy In Ukraine
The flap about the "Fuck the EU" uttering of the U.S. assistant secretary of state Nuland is somewhat disguising the real issue.
The unencrypted cell phone call between Nuland and the U.S. ambassador in Kiev (transcript) was likely recorded by the Ukraine's security services. While the State department tried (as usual these days) to blame the Russians, the tweet of a Russian official that pointed to the call recording came a full day after someone else had tweeted the link to it. The Russian official was thereby not the original source.
The caught call reveals several issues:
1. The U.S. is undeniably trying to overthrow the democratically elected government and the elected president of Ukraine and wants to put one of its opposition puppets into the top job. Nuland herself claims (vid at 7:26) that the U.S. has since the 1990s "invested" over $5 billion for such "democratization" of Ukraine. It is likely that the U.S., as the Ukraine government claims, is paying many of the protesters in Kiev.
2. Some countries in the EU (Germany, Poland and the Baltic countries) also want to overthrow the Ukrainian government but they (especially Merkel) want another puppet, price boxer Klitschko, to become the top dog. But as the rest of the EU is not willing to pay up for buying the Ukraine government for the meager plundering of the already very poor country those EU countries that want a coup have little they can offer and no real way of threatening sanctions or other illegal means.
The "fuck the EU" remark is only about the difference in style. The U.S. wants fast sanction against the legal government and the people of Ukraine and to install its own puppet while the EU wants a different puppet and a less noisy kind of coup.
The dragging behind the scenes is also disguising another important issue. The protest in the Ukraine are led by extreme right wing movements which will not shy away from brutalities or even civil war:
[T]he physical organization of these protests, the building of barricades around squares, much of the camp construction and policing, and the pitched and sometimes deadly battles with police are almost entirely the work of the extreme right. In some of Ukraine’s smaller cities, the local protests and seizures of government buildings appear to have been entirely the work of Pravy Sektor.
Here in Kiev, some members of the ragtag army of pipe-wielding, helmeted marshals and guards say they are supporters of the more mainstream right-wing Ukrainian-nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party, which won about 10 per cent of the vote in 2012 parliamentary elections and whose leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, has a history of using anti-Semitic insults.
But the people in the largest and most aggressive group, who generally refuse to speak to journalists, are members of Pravy Sektor, an umbrella group of fascist, nationalist, football-hooligan and right-wing extremist gangs – some with neo-Nazi histories – which is generally considered to the right of Svoboda and which tends to be very secretive. It has not, to this point, been a political party.
The U.S. as well as the EU seem to believe that they can keep these forces under control (do they pay them?). But just like the Jihadists in Syria are hardly controllable the fascist in Ukraine will certainly play their own game as soon as the U.S. EU pressure against the legal government gives them a chance to go for it. They even openly threaten to ignite a civil war.
By pushing for the resignation of the elected president of Ukraine the U.S. and the EU are clearly risking, for their own selfish reasons, to throw Ukraine into an internal conflict they would be unable to control.
The media uproar about the "fuck the EU" part is just hiding those lunatic aspects of these plans.
NYT Selectively Quotes To Denigrate Russian Olympics
Even after the Sochi games have begun the New York Times and continue their ridiculous anti-Russian campaign reaching as a last straws to this or that official uttering while conveniently leaving out those quotes that give real meaning of what was said and which condemn the NYT for exactly what it does.
Headlining The Darkness Behind Sochi’s Sparkle the front page piece looks for lost doorknobs and missing pillows, how terribly inconvenient and impossible to happen in the "west", and talks about "Russia’s oppressive antigay law and its suffocating restrictions on freedom of speech". This even after the opening show in Sochi included the Russian band t.A.T.u, famous for their lesbian kisses (vid), and lots of music by Tchaikovsky, the great gay composer.
It calls as witness the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, misrepresenting him as if he somehow did what the Times is doing:
At the opening ceremony, during which he sat next to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, Bach gave a strong speech to kick off the Olympics. He made points that sounded like sharp digs at Putin and the law he signed that banned the distribution of so-called gay propaganda to children in Russia.
In the most refreshing speech by an I.O.C. president in decades, Bach did not kowtow to the host country. He said the Olympics should set an example for “human diversity and great unity.”
“To the athletes, you have come here with your Olympic dream,” he said. “You are welcome, no matter where you come from or your background. Yes, it’s possible even as competitors to live together and to live in harmony with tolerance and without any form of discrimination for whatever reason.”
He did not have to come out and say it, but many people who heard him knew exactly what he meant.
Bach said what is said at any Olympic Games. Leave out the politics. Be peaceful and tolerant. But the author obviously completely missed what Bach was really saying. The very next sentence in Bach's short speech, not quoted by the New York Times, was this:
“Have the courage to address your disagreements in a peaceful, direct political dialogue and not on the backs of these athletes,” he said.
But that is of course not what the Times wants to do. It wants to mix the issues, sports and politics, and demean the apolitical games only to insert its political pet peeve.
Against Anti-Sochi Propaganda
A few links with regard to the Sochi Olympics and the ridiculous U.S. propaganda campaign to denigrate Russia and the games there:
Western journalists have been in the business of dismissing Russian achievements and magnifying Russian failures ever since Putin drove them into a collective derangement syndrome – he even haunts their dreams, as recently revealed by the Guardian’s Shaun Walker – so the preemptive besmirching of the Sochi Olympics can’t have surprised anyone.
What is startling, though, is the unusually low competence of the effort, even by the standards of these people that are sarcastically referred to as ”democratic journalists” in Russia. (read on)
- 8 Viral Sochi Olympics Photos That Are Total Lies
- Welcome to Sochi: Holiday resort, Olympic host – and gay capital of Russia
- Sochi organizer says 65 leaders coming to Olympics, a record for Winter Games
Good luck to all the athletes and good luck to Russia.
The Bogus Aleppo Prison Breach
BEIRUT (AP) — A suicide bomber blew himself up at the gates of a Syrian prison Thursday and rebels stormed in behind him, freeing hundreds of inmates as part of an offensive aimed at capturing key government symbols around the northern city of Aleppo, activists said.
Today the insurgent propaganda office claims that the government has recaptured the prison.
Syrian troops retook Friday most of Aleppo's prison, lost to rebels a day earlier, in fighting that has killed at least 46 people over two days, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
But the fate of hundreds of prisoners reportedly freed after Islamist and jihadist fighters overran the facility was unclear, with suggestions that they may not have been able to flee amid the fighting.
But the facts beg to differ. The vehicle based bomb and the British suicide bomber driving it never came to the prison gate but were defeated before reaching it. The prison's perimeter was not breached and no prisoners were able to escape in the first place. Jabhad al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, which cooperated in the attack, lost dozens of fighters when the Syrian air force hit the areas around the prison.
This case is just another reminder that neither the insurgency propaganda organizations, nor its multipliers in the "western" media can be trusted with regard to their information on Syria.
"To Respect The Independence And Sovereignty Of Ukraine"
Budapest, 5 December 1994
The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,
Welcoming the accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear-weapon State,
Taking into account the commitment of Ukraine to eliminate all nuclear weapons from its territory within a specified period of time,
Noting the changes in the world-wide security situation, including the end of the Cold War, which have brought about conditions for deep reductions in nuclear forces.
Confirm the following:
The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE Final Act, to respect the Independence and Sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.
So here is the U.S. showing its legal commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine by moving its puppets across the chess board:
In a conversation leaked online and posted to YouTube on Feb. 6, voices closely resembling those of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland discuss loosely the roles of Ukrainian opposition leaders and the United Nations, and frustration over inaction and indecision by the European Union in solving Ukraine’s political crisis.
The voice allegedly of Nuland adds that Klitschko should not be given a role in government.
“I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea,” she says.
“Yeah… I guess… in terms of him not going into the government, just let him sort of stay out and do his political homework and stuff,” Pyatt says.
Before the call ends, Nuland tells Pyatt she has “one more wrinkle” for him.
Commenting on European pressure put on Yanukovych – or lack thereof – she explains that she has spoken to the United Nations and has gotten an official there who said that Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, agreed to send someone to Ukraine to “help glue this thing and to have the UN glue it.”
She adds: “And you know, fuck the EU.”
“Exactly,” Pyatt replies. “And I think we got to do something to make it stick together, because you can be sure that if it does start to gain altitude the Russians will be working behind the scenes to torpedo it. Let me work on Klitschko, and I think we should get a Western personality to come out here (to Ukraine) and midwife this thing,’’ he adds.
Victoria Nuland is the Assistant Secretary of State for Europe. Brussels will just love that call.
Thanks whomever for putin that call on YouTube.
Peace Talks In Pakistan
Eight month after the Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif won the elections peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, which he had promised, have finally begun:
The two sides gathered at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa House in Islamabad for a preliminary meeting likely to chart a “roadmap” for future discussions, amid deep scepticism over whether dialogue can yield a lasting peace deal.
Sources said that talks were held in a cordial atmosphere and that negotiations would now be continued on a daily basis.
It is unclear though whether these talks will lead to an end of violent incidents which are attributed to the Taliban. A McClatchy report claims that prime minister Sharif no longer has hope for these talks to succeed and has planned an all out military assault on the Taliban borderlands with Afghanistan. There is reason to doubt that claim as the writer of that report also manipulates some facts:
[T]he Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, already has decided to press ahead with a massive military strike at the militants’ headquarters in North Waziristan, a tribal area bordering Afghanistan – and the insurgents know it’s coming.
After being sworn in, Sharif insisted that the option of peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban be explored, despite opposition from the country’s powerful military, which had all but routed the militants after five years of fighting involving 150,000 troops.
The TTP used the eight months since to regroup, organize and publicly demonstrate their renewed strength with the two-month wave of terrorist attacks. That response to Sharif’s reconciliatory policy has made him look ill-informed and naive, and much of the public anger generated by the terrorist attacks has targeted him.
Of course the Pakistani military never "all but routed the militants" which is what make peace talks a necessity in the first place.
The writer of that highlighted sentence is also leaving out some important historic events and is thereby coming to a very wrong conclusion.
There were few attacks from the Taliban during the first few months of Nawaz Sharif's rule and preparations for peace talks went well along. But just a day before those were starting in earnest the Unites States killed the head of the TTP, Hakimullah Mahsud, in a targeted drone strike and thereby sabotaged those earlier peace talks.
It was only after Hakimullah's assassination that the TTP launched a series of attacks against Pakistani security forces. For McClatchy to leave that out and to blame the attacks on Nawaz Sharif's willingness for peace talks is a serious manipulation of the facts.
One central demand the TTP has is the end of the U.S. occupation in Afghanistan and the end of Pakistan's support for it. The United States fears that Nawaz Sharif will agree to that and therefore has an interest to make any peaceful solution in Pakistan impossible.
Sharif's alleged plan to use a wide ranging military campaign to fight the TTP will end like all such plans have ended since the British colonized India - in disaster. The Taliban will slip away and come back as soon as the attack is running out of steam. The plans for that attack are based on pipe dreams. As McClatchy claims:
[Sharif's national security adviser] Aziz laid out a new policy under which Pakistan would act to secure the northwest tribal areas by the time the United States withdraws the last of its combat troops from Afghanistan in December. That entails a decisive operation in North Waziristan, with Pakistan seeking the support of the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force on the Afghan side of the border to cut off TTP escape routes.
How can ISAF forces block the border on the Afghan side when ISAF is withdrawing? It would take several brigades of ground troops to prevent Pakistani Taliban from slipping into Afghanistan. Such troops are no longer available and the planned campaign will therefore end just as pointless as earlier ones. The Taliban will cross the border and come back as soon as military exhausts it's campaign drive.
Talks between the Taliban and the government are the only way to peace in Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan. One major point in such talks and a condition without which no success is possible is the end of foreign occupation and drone attacks. But as the U.S. wants to stay in Afghanistan it will do its best to sabotage such talks. Both those between the Afghan president Karzai and the Taliban in Afghanistan and those between the Pakistan premier Sharif and the Taliban in Pakistan.
Syria: Some Regional Consolidations?
The Jihadists unde the Islamic State of Iraq And Syria are consolidating positions on the Turkish border. The seem to want to get control over all border crossings. One wonders what their plans for Turkey look like.
In the south Jabhat al-Nusra, disguised as U.S. sponsored FSA, is getting more entrenched. This is the result of U.S. arms, ammunition and tactical advice delivered through Jordan.
The Syrian army is making good progress in and around the major cities. Damascus is pretty much cleared. Homs city has only a few pockets of insurgents left and the insurgents in parts of Aleppo city are now mostly encircled.
The norther countrysides are a mixed picture. There is some fighting between the various Jihadist groups but recent attempts to take any new territory held by the Syrian government seems to have failed.
All this seems like a winter lull spend on consolidating ones position while planning for this or that new offensive.
Sochi And Ukraine
The anti-Yanukovich rhetoric in the German media has somewhat died down for now. Is this the silence before the storm? Or is this a response to the overwhelmingly negative reaction that 90% of the commentators had towards the very obvious pro-coup propaganda? I don't know.
But the soon start of the Sochi Olympics lets me think back to the start of the Beijing Olympics which the United States used to let its proxy force Georgia attack Russian peacekeepers in Georgian areas that strove for independence.
What has the "west" planned for the start of of the Sochi Olympics? Let me know some scenarios.
Smaller Protests Show Yanukovych Weakened?
Can someone reconcile these two parts from a NYT report about Ukraine? First:
On Sunday, tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Independence Square here in the capital, ... Rather than being placated by any of the concessions, the opposition has grown emboldened by the evidence that Mr. Yanukovych’s position has weakened.
So "tens of thousands" show that the president Yanukovych's position has "weakened". But what then is this further down in the piece?
Though large, the turnout was far lower than at the movement’s peak in early December, when more than 100,000 people gathered on three successive Sundays.
The protests are far smaller now but that is a sign that the president's position has weakened? How does that fit?
The attempts by the U.S. and the EU to now bribe Ukraine with more empty promises will not work.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Western powers were working on a financial plan for Ukraine whose numbers "won't be small" and won't hinge on Kiev first agreeing upon a long-term International Monetary Fund agreement, whose financial conditions Kiev has had difficulty complying with.
However, she said the money was contingent on the new Ukrainian government pursuing economic and political reforms.
U.S. officials said the goal was to convince Mr. Yanukovych to make a series of political reforms, including appointing a "true" technocratic government that would then start to make the tough economic changes sought by the IMF.
It makes no economic sense for Ukraine, which depends on exports to Russia and on natural gas from Russia, to turn away from Russia and towards a predatory "west". Any IMF program, which would lend money just as Russia is willing to do but with much more destructive conditions, would likely be very harsh for the people. They know this and are not willing to give in.
The U.S. and the EU are inciting the hard-rightwing and fascist "opposition" in Ukraine. The western darling Klitchko has called for the creation of "self-defense groups". One hopes that this call will be ignored like his previous two calls for a general strike which no one followed.
Ukraine: "West" Playing With Fire - Intentions?
The "west" is pushing a anti-democratic collection of right-wingers as a "democratic opposition" against the dully elected government of Ukraine. How can Kerry claim that these forces who fight the majority elected government are in a "fight for democracy"?
There is a great danger here. The street-muscle of the "opposition" is fascist in its core and a quite violent collection of hooligans and militants:
These groups range from right-wing radicals and soccer hooligans to military veterans and mobs of stick-wielding goons. And to the gall of more-established opposition figures, like the world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, they have become the revolution’s most commanding presence. Anyone with a stake in resolving Ukraine’s political crisis — including the diplomats watching fretfully from the E.U. and U.S. — will likely have to reckon with the role of these groups. But they are becoming increasingly hard to control.
By hyping the "opposition", which could not win in elections, the "west" is giving succor to the extreme forces. These forces already pledge to incite a civil war.
This is clearly, as we claimed, a repeat of the strategy that was used to throw Syria into ruins. Under the disguise of "peaceful protests" which, like in the Ukraine never were peaceful, radical forces are incited to fight the state and all its structures.
But what is the purpose his obvious attempt to throw Ukraine into a state of unrest and possibly into a civil war? Did not Syria show that such radical forces will in the end hit back at the "west"? What is there to win but trouble?
Open Thread 2014-02
News & views ...
Syria: U.S. Resumes Arms Delivery To Al-Qaeda, Furthers Destruction
The past U.S. policy of providing arms to the Syrian insurgency failed to achieve any of its purported objectives. Neither did it result in a success of the insurgency in its attempt to overthrow the Syrian government, nor did help to keep the various Al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria at bay. Instead the weapons provide to the "moderate" insurgents fell into the hands of the Al-Qaeda affiliates while the "moderate" insurgency fell apart. In effect the U.S. provided the logistics to those it claimed to have fought over the last twelve years.
As usual the U.S. response to a failed policy is to do more of the same.
The U.S. congress has voted to further arm "moderate" insurgents in Syria:
Light arms supplied by the United States are flowing to "moderate" Syrian rebel factions in the south of the country and U.S. funding for months of further deliveries has been approved by Congress, according U.S. and European security officials.
The weapons, most of which are moving to non-Islamist Syrian rebels via Jordan, include a variety of small arms, as well as some more powerful weapons, such as anti-tank rockets.
Earlier U.S. weapon deliveries have fallen into the hand of Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra:
Senior Free Syrian Army and Jordanian sources, along with video evidence, have confirmed that European-made anti-tank missiles were obtained, and in some cases sold, to the hard-line Nusra Front after being supplied to vetted Free Syrian Army battalions across the Jordanian border.
The vetted FSA in the south is little more than a public relations front for al-Nusra:
"They offer their services and cooperate with us, they are better armed than we are, they have suicide bombers and know how to make car bombs," an FSA fighter explained.
"The FSA and Al Nusra join together for operations but they have an agreement to let the FSA lead for public reasons, because they don't want to frighten Jordan or the West," said an activist who works with opposition groups in Deraa.
"Operations that were really carried out by Al Nusra are publicly presented by the FSA as their own," he said.
A leading FSA commander involved in operations in Deraa said Al Nusra had strengthened FSA units and played a decisive role in key rebel victories in the south.
"The face of Al Nusra cannot be to the front. It must be behind the FSA, for the sake of Jordan and the international community," he said.
The U.S. as also resumed "non-lethal" aid to insurgents in the north:
The United States has restarted deliveries of nonlethal aid to the Syrian opposition, officials said Monday, more than a month after Al-Qaeda-linked militants seized warehouses and prompted a sudden cutoff of Western supplies to the rebels.
The communications equipment and other items are being funneled for now only to non-armed opposition groups, said the U.S. officials.
The U.S. officials, who weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity, said the aid was being sent through Turkey into Syria, with the coordination of the Free Syrian Army's Supreme Military Council, ...
When the jihadists raided those warehouses with "non-lethal" aid provided by the United States they looted this stuff:
[A senior FSA Supreme Military Council official] said that the Islamic Front raided a total of ten warehouses belonging to the Western-backed umbrella group and seized a significant arsenal of weaponry, including 2,000 AK-47 rifles, 1,000 assorted arms—including M79 Osa rocket launchers, rocket-propelled grenades, and 14.5mm heavy machine guns—in addition to more than 200 tons of ammunition. At least 100 FSA military vehicles were also taken in the attack.
The resumption of arms supplies to the Syrian insurgency will not lead to any different outcome than earlier deliveries of such supplies. This then again proves that the real purpose of the U.S. instigated war on Syria and of the efforts to extend it is still this:
Destruction of the infrastructure, economy and social fabric of Syria is their and their supporters aim.
Leak Of CIA In Afghanistan A Sign Of U.S. Retreat
The Obama administration has decided to leave Afghanistan. That is the only explanation I can find for this massive leak by "administration, military and intelligence officials" to the NYT's administration stenographer David E. Sanger:
The risk that President Obama may be forced to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the year has set off concerns inside the American intelligence agencies that they could lose their air bases used for drone strikes against Al Qaeda in Pakistan and for responding to a nuclear crisis in the region.
If Mr. Obama ultimately withdrew all American troops from Afghanistan, the C.I.A.’s drone bases in the country would have to be closed, according to administration officials, because it could no longer be protected.
By leaking this the administration is saying that should U.S. troops stay in Afghanistan:
- the CIA would continue drone raids into Pakistan,
- the CIA would continue to use its bases in Afghanistan to spy on Pakistan's nukes.
Neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan would want the CIA to do any of this. Both countries will, after this leak, increase their efforts to get the U.S. out.
Already two years ago the Afghan foreign minister categorically rejected any further CIA drone activity beyond the end of 2014:
Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasool said on Thursday Afghanistan would not be used as a launch pad for U.S. drones attacks on neighboring countries after NATO combat forces leave by the end of 2014.
"Afghan soil will not be used against any country in the region," Rasool told Al Jazeera television when asked if Washington would be allowed to launch drone strikes against Pakistan after the troops' withdrawal.
I believe that the government of Afghanistan was and is serious with this. Any further antagonizing of Pakistan, which supports some of the Taliban fighting the Afghan government, would only prolong a war the Afghan government wants to end.
The U.S. is currently holding a new strategic dialog with Pakistan. Making some progress in U.S. relations with Pakistan while drones stay in Afghanistan and regularly violate Pakistani sovereignty will be impossible.
That multiple sources bring this up to Sanger at this time can only mean that the Obama administration has given up on the status of force agreement with Afghanistan that would allow its troops to stay beyond 2014.
The U.S. leaving Afghanistan is likely the best for that country as well as the best solution for the United States and its allies. There are hardly any positive results from the 12+ years of U.S. occupation of the country and there is no reason to believe that more time would change that sorry record.
McCain On Syria: "We Were Winning ..."
US Senator John McCain and Alexei Pushkov, Chairman of Russia's State Duma Committee for International Affairs have clashed over policy towards Syria during a live TV debate.
Watching the short clip at the BBC site one can hear McCain say the following (at 1:48):
We all know what happened in Syria. We were winning and then, of course, 5,000 Hizbollah came in ...
Libya, Syria And Now Ukraine - Color Revolution By Force
The same forces that instigated unruly demonstrations in 2011 in Syria are now instigating such demonstrations in the Ukraine. That at least is what I am reading out of the fact that the exactly same graphics are used to train the willing-to-fight demonstrators. How else to explain the above graphics, once with Arabic and once with in Cyrillic letters?
Accompanying the demonstrations and illegal occupations of government buildings are in both cases brutal, criminal attacks on the police and other government forces. In Syria the violence "muscle" part was done by foreign financed Jihadists while neo-nazi gangs are used in the Ukraine. The demonstrations and the attacks on the state are planned and go together. There is nothing "peaceful" in demonstrations that are only the public-relations cover for attacks on the state. But the foreign politicians and media immediately utter "concerns" and threats over completely normal government responses to them. It is a scam to justify "western" "support" for the demonstrators and to further the violence.
The aim is "regime change" of legitimate governments by small minorities. Should the "regime" resist to that the alternative of destroying the state and the whole society is also wholeheartedly accepted.
Several German media used of the "regime" slander for the dully elected Ukrainian government today and did some concern trolling about "peaceful demonstrators" while policemen in Kiev were doused with Molotov cocktails. It is very obvious what is going on here and the media are playing along with the politicians, militaries and secret services that are behind these "revolutions".
Color revolutions in the old form had become too obvious a scheme to be of further use. The concept was therefore extended to include intensive use of force and mercenaries and to support those forces from the outside with weapons, ammunition, training and other means. After Libya, where Gaddhafi forces are still fighting back, Syria was destroyed and now the Ukraine is the target. There are likely lists of other countries that shall be attacked by such means. What is really behind the Gezi-park demonstrations in Turkey and the protests in Bangkok? Are foreign powers behind these too or are they just copycat actions by local groups? How does Egypt fit in?
And what is the best defense a legitimate government can build against and how should it react to such attacks?
Syria: Guardian Falsely Blames Government For Talk Breakdown
The Guardian's false version: Syria's foreign minister threatens to walk out of peace talks
Long-awaited direct peace talks between the Syrian government and rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad failed to get under way as expected on Friday morning after Damascus insisted on ending "terrorism" before seeking a political solution to end nearly three years of war and misery.
The reality as tweeted earlier by the Lebanese TV station LBCI:
LBCI News English @LBCI_News_EN
Syrian opposition will not meet government delegation until #Damascus endorses #Geneva 1 communiqué on transition – opposition delegate
This step by the opposition to stop all direct talk was already announced yesterday by a "revolution" propaganda account:
The 47th @THE_47th
[Exclusive] My source: several Oppo members threatening to quit Geneva-2 if Assad delegates don't sign G1 communique by tomorrow 1
And via an Aljazeera correspondent from the horse's mouth:
"We have explicitly demanded a written commitment from regime to accept Geneva 1. Otherwise no direct talks," #SNC Haitham al-Maleh
The Syrian government was not part of the Geneva I process. It had no say in the results (pdf). It is unreasonable to expect any government to sign off on a paper that it had no chance to negotiate. Obviously the Saudi paid "rebels" are setting unreasonable conditions and deny direct talks. But the Guardian, in its typical propaganda mode against the Syrian government, blames the other side. It does not even mention that it was the "rebels" who first set new conditions for the talks.
Added: Contrast the Guardian opening paragraph above with this one just out from the Washington Post:
Long-awaited peace talks between Syria’s warring factions were on the brink of collapse on Friday after the Syrian opposition refused to enter into direct talks with the government and the government delegation threatened to go home.
Kerry, al-Zawahri United In Call For Rebel Unity
October 22 2013: Syria talks open in London, ministers call for rebel unity
US Secretary of State John Kerry is at the talks along with Hague and counterparts from Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, together with opposition leaders.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the London meeting was aimed at persuading Syria's fractious rebels to have a "united position" for the UN-backed conference in the Swiss city, pencilled in for November 23.
January 24 2014: Al Qaeda Calls for Rebel Unity in Syria
In an audio recording released Thursday, the leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, called on Islamist brigades in northern Syria to stop fighting one another, to focus on toppling President Bashar al-Assad and to form an Islamic court to arbitrate disputes.What other issues unite Al-Qaeda and "western" governments?
Washington Post Contradicts Own Reporting On Torture
Adam Goldman today reports for the Washington Post on the history of a secret U.S. torture prison in Poland. On of the people tortured there was one Abu Zubaida. Goldman writes:
Other Counterterrorism Center officials believed that Nashiri was a key al-Qaeda figure and was withholding information. After a tense meeting in December 2002, top CIA officials decided they needed to get tougher with him, two former U.S. intelligence officials recounted.
Zubaida also provided important information to his interrogators, officials said. He identified people in photographs and provided what one official called “hundreds of data points.”
Officials said Zubaida said was even willing to help get new detainees to talk.
But back in 2009 Peter Finn and Joby Warrick reported, astonishingly also in the Washington Post, that Zubaida was of no value at all:
When CIA officials subjected their first high-value captive, Abu Zubaida, to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, they were convinced that they had in their custody an al-Qaeda leader who knew details of operations yet to be unleashed, and they were facing increasing pressure from the White House to get those secrets out of him.
The methods succeeded in breaking him, and the stories he told of al-Qaeda terrorism plots sent CIA officers around the globe chasing leads.
In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida's tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida -- chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates -- was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.
What is it then? Should we trust the reporting of the Washington Post or the reporting of the Washington Post?
CNN Finds Al Qaeda Now "Moderate"
CNN and its reporter Frederick Pleitgen are trying to whitewash some Al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Syria by contrasting them with other Al-Qaeda affiliated groups and by declaring them "moderate":
At a sniper position atop of one of Aleppo's tallest buildings, soldiers showed us areas under opposition control. Some are held by the moderate Free Syrian Army, or the newly-constituted and moderate Islamic Front. But others are under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the al Qaeda-linked group which is battling against other rebel factions in its bid to set up an Islamic caliphate in Syria.
As pointed out earlier here the Islamic Front is not "moderate" in any reasonable aspect the attribute "moderate" can be used. It wants an Islamic state, or caliphate, in Syria. It regularly cooperates with the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. The head of one of its main sub groups, Abu Khaled al Suri of Ahrar al-Shams, was a friend and follower of Osama Bin Laden and is, according to himself, still part of the group:
A top official of a major Syrian rebel group acknowledged Friday that he considers himself a member of al Qaida, an admission that undercuts Western hopes that the new Islamic Front would prove to be an acceptable counter to the rising influence of other al Qaida affiliates in Syria.
Abu Khaled al Suri, who is a top figure in the rebel group Ahrar al Sham, made the statement in an Internet posting in which he argued that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, another radical rebel group, was not al Qaida’s representative in Syria and was not doing the work of al Qaida’s founder, Osama bin Laden, its current leader, Ayman al Zawahiri, or al Qaida’s late leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who was killed by an American missile in 2006.
The leading figure of the leading group within the Islamic Front is an al-Qaeda operative. The Islamic Front does not want a democratic state but an Islamic caliphate. Several subgroups of the new founded Islamic Front committed sectarian massacres of civilians in Latakia.
But Fred Pleitgen and CNN insist that the group is "moderate".
What makes it so? Obama's crazy willingness to talk with it and to probably provide it with weapons?
WaPo Blames Ukraine For Enacting U.S. Like Laws
The lunatics writing the Washington Post editorials want to blame the Ukraine (and the Russian president Putin) for its remarkable patient defense against the foreign supported, neo-nazi vandals of the Svoboda party who try to storm and take over government buildings in Kiev.
One paragraph especially shows their unmatched hypocrisy:
The repressive new restrictions, which criminalize such activity as wearing helmets and setting up tents in public spaces, look a lot like the strategy the Russian ruler used to crush mass demonstrations against his regime in 2011 and 2012. Mr. Yanukovych even adopted the regulation Russia imposed on nongovernment groups that receive foreign funding — a product of Mr. Putin’s paranoid conviction that pro-democracy movements in his country and elsewhere are the result of Western government plots.
Wearing helmets and masks at demonstrations has been unanimously criminalized by the D.C. Council in the Washington Post's hometown. Tents set up in public spaces by the Occupy movement have been outlawed and cleared by force all over the United States. The Russian and Ukrainian laws that regulate foreign money to political organisations are copies of the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act which is law of the land since 1938.
None of these "repressive" and "paranoid" restrictions in the United States seem to bother the Washington Post editors. Its only when foreign governments that do not suit the editors' political views enact and use the same laws that these are to condemned and be remarked on at all.
Outrageous that Ukraine is monitoring protestors' communications! Only a very insecure gov't would surveil its own citizens like that.
But there is not even any evidence that the Ukrainian government spies or monitors protesters at all. All it did was sending one SMS message to all cell phones within one cell towers reach. That is a standard emergency function in any cellphone network system and it typically does not reveal the recipients. It has nothing to do with spying. The FBI of course is using cell phone sniffers without warrants. But it is not the Ukraine where that happens.
McClatchy Errs on Yemen's AlQaeda Resiliance
McClatchy reports on the (predictable) failing "national dialog" in Yemen. While the report is quite good this paragraph contains one serious error:
Tensions between government troops and hard-line secessionist factions – the bulk of which have boycotted the dialogue – turned violent in the formerly independent south, while the fighters of Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based terrorist franchise, remained resilient despite continuing U.S. drone strikes.
The use of drones in Yemen might seem a simple, quick-fix option for Obama. But with every civilian death, al Qaeda's recruiting power increases. Nabeel Khoury, former U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to Yemen, recently reminded us of just that. Asked whether the covert U.S. drone war in Yemen was creating more enemies than it removed, he concluded: "Drone strikes take out a few bad guys to be sure, but they also kill a large number of innocent civilians. Given Yemen's tribal structure, the U.S. generates roughly forty to sixty new enemies for every AQAP operative killed by drones."
The McClatchy DC reporting is usually excellent and much more objective than other U.S. news sources. It should correct its above noted error.
Syria: The Geneva II Conference Trouble
We do not yet know the whole story behind this but it seems that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon suddenly grew a pair and that the U.S. is now trying to again cut them off.
Ban Ki-Moon invited, seemingly against U.S. will, Iran to the Geneva II talks about Syria.
I have decided to issue some additional invitations to the one-day gathering in Montreux. They are: Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Greece, the Holy See, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, and Iran. I believe the expanded international presence on that day will be an important and useful show of solidarity in advance of the hard work that the Syrian Government and opposition delegations will begin two days later in Geneva.
As I have said repeatedly, I believe strongly that Iran needs to be part of the solution to the Syrian crisis.
I have spoken at length in recent days with Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Javad Zarif. He has assured me that, like all the other countries invited to the opening day discussions in Montreux, Iran understands that the basis of the talks is the full implementation of the 30 June 2012 Geneva Communique, including the Action Plan.
Foreign Minister Zarif and I agree that the goal of the negotiations is to establish, by mutual consent, a transitional governing body with full executive powers. It was on that basis that Foreign Minister Zarif pledged that Iran would play a positive and constructive role in Montreux.
Therefore, as convenor and host of the conference, I have decided to issue an invitation to Iran to participate.
There is little one could say against Iran taking part in the conference. If even Mexico and Luxemburg are invited (what for?) Iran, much more involved in the conflict, surely deserves a place at the table. This is even necessary as any agreement coming out of Geneva II does need Iran's acceptance as it would otherwise likely attempt to sabotage it.
But the U.S. State Department would rather blow up the conference in which it has little to win and set conditions that Ban Ki-Moon with his careful words had tried to push aside:
The United States views the UN Secretary General’s invitation to Iran to attend the upcoming Geneva conference as conditioned on Iran’s explicit and public support for the full implementation of the Geneva communique including the establishment of a transitional governing body by mutual consent with full executive authorities. This is something Iran has never done publicly and something we have long made clear is required.
The Iranian foreign ministry replied: As Iran has not taken part in the Geneva I conference it can not be held to or be expected to accept all its results.
Under heavy U.S. pressure the foreign sponsored exile opposition to Syria's government had agreed, with less than half of its membership voting yes, to come to Geneva. It now found a reason to draw back and set an ultimatum for Ban Ki-Moon to withdraw the invitation to Iran or the opposition would withdraw. Ban Ki-Moon is too exposed. He can not let a bunch of nobodies dictate UN policy. He will ignore them. It is up to the U.S. to get the opposition to Geneva.
While the Syrian government has long agreed to come to Geneva President Assad, in an interview published today, made clear that he will not step down or let the foreign sponsored hotel opposition take over the country:
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said there is a "significant" chance he will seek a new term and ruled out sharing power with the opposition seeking his ouster, in an exclusive interview with AFP before the Geneva II peace talks.
Speaking on Sunday at his presidential palace in Damascus, Assad said he expected Syria's war to grind on.
And he called for the talks scheduled to begin on Wednesday in Montreux in Switzerland to focus on what he termed his "war against terrorism".
Focusing on terrorism is by now also the objective of the "western" governments which tried to ouster Assad. Syria is training ground for their own misfits who will eventually come home and make trouble. Even the U.S. needs Assad to stay. Two car bombs exploded today at a Turkish Syrian border post, the last official one not directly controlled by al-Qaeda affiliate ISIS. They remind the Turks that they also have a huge problem. Another exposure of the weapons smuggling by Turkish intelligence officials to Jihadists increases pressure on Erdogan to look for a faster way out the situation. So everyone, except maybe Qatar and Saudi Arabia, is now looking for a way to keep Assad in, at least for a while, and to throw the terrorists out of Syria.
But the U.S. blowing up the Geneva conference over Iran's participation will make it harder for outsiders to influence that.
The recent infighting between the various extremists group on the ground in Syria has allowed the Syrian government to make significant progress on the ground in Damascus governate as well as around Aleppo. If Geneva II does not take place or fails the one loosing the least will likely be the Syrian government.
While Talking With al-Qaeda Kerry Accuses Assad of Supporting Extremists
[Kerry] said Assad has “purposefully” facilitated the rise of extremism to present himself as a Western ally against radicals.
“He’s been doing this for months — trying to make himself the protector of Syria against extremists, when he himself has even been funding some of those extremists,” Kerry said. He accused Assad of “purposefully ceding some territory to them in order to make them more of a problem so he can make the argument that he is somehow the protector.”
What extremists is Kerry talking about? It is not Hizbullah, which has support from the Syrian government, that is killing civilians and cutting off heads but the "western" supported Takfiris. Those were certainly not created by Assad. They created themselves, through money from outside Syria, and did so even before the first protest in Syria started in March 2011:
In another town in northern Idlib, another jihadist — belonging to a different group — shared Ibrahim’s goal of an Islamic state. “Abu Zayd” is a 25-year-old Shari’a graduate who heads one of the founding brigades of Ahrar al-Sham, a group that adheres to the conservative Salafi interpretation of Sunni Islam.
The Ahrar started working on forming brigades “after the Egyptian revolution,” Abu Zayd said, well before March 15, 2011, when the Syrian revolution kicked off with protests in the southern agricultural city of Dara’a.
The leader of Ahrar al Shams has now claimed himself to be part of Al-Qaeda:
A top official of a major Syrian rebel group acknowledged Friday that he considers himself a member of al Qaida, an admission that undercuts Western hopes that the new Islamic Front would prove to be an acceptable counter to the rising influence of other al Qaida affiliates in Syria.
Abu Khaled al Suri, who is a top figure in the rebel group Ahrar al Sham, made the statement in an Internet posting [...]
Ahrar al Sham is one of the most militarily effective groups fighting to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad and is one of the largest groups aligned with the Islamic Front, a coalition of rebel groups that announced its formation in September as a counter to the U.S.-backed Supreme Military Council. Ahrar al Sham’s leader, Hassan Aboud, is the political chief of the Islamic Front.
These al-Qaeda affiliated groups, ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al Sham, all existed before the "revolution" in Syria started and they were all preparing to fight the Syrian government. Does Kerry believe that the Syrian president Assad created these even before the U.S. instigated campaign against him began? When the U.S. military withdrew from Vietnam and now from Afghanistan is it also "purposefully ceding some territory" so it can make the argument that it is "somehow the protector"? What utter nonsense.
After talks with the U.S. the Islamic Front, led by self acknowledged al-Qaeda affiliate Ahrar al Sham, has together with other groups now reportedly agreed to talks with the Syrian government in Geneva. There Kerry is the one representing the anti-Assad side. Who then is really cooperating with al-Qaeda?
open Thread 2014-01
News & views ...
Missile Experts: White House Made False Claims Over Syrian WMD Use
We called the chemical weapon attack near Damascus on August 21st a false flag operations and unlikely to have been committed by the Syrian government. Disregarding the large motive the insurgents had for such an attack as well as other facts the Obama administration accused the Syrian government and prepared to go to war over the issue.
Threatened with a possible impeachment procedure should he go to war over unverified WMD claims Obama was forced to go to Congress to ask for support. But the people of the United States were against another war in the Middle East and Congress, despite heavy lobbying from the Zionists, declined to act. Offered a deal over Syria's chemical weapons by the Russians Obama stopped his war plans and accepted the Syrian disarmament offer. That the Russians had deployed a quite capable and well sized fleet to the Syrian coast also played a decisive, though still under-reported, role.
Obama had little factual base for his claim that the Syrian government had committed the chemical attack. The claims the Obama administration put out were not signed off by the U.S. intelligence community but solely by the White House. Obama was deliberately going to war over largely fake WMD claims. Only the pressure form the people, and Russian intervention, eventually held him back.
Ignoring several significant issues the anti-Syrian propaganda corps pushed the "Assad has done it" claim. Human Rights Watch and the New York Times' CJ Chivers pushed claims that the flight path of the chemical rockets pointed to Syrian government origins. This was, as we pointed out, another false claim.
Seymour Hersh later reported that Obama's case for war had deliberately left out facts that pointed to the insurgent's culpability in the chemical weapon use. Hersh mentioned an analysis by the MIT missile expert Theodore Postol which trashed the Obama administration's assertions as well has the HRW and NYT claims of the missiles origin. McClatchy reports on the now public analysis:
A series of revelations about the rocket believed to have delivered poison sarin gas to a Damascus suburb last summer are challenging American intelligence assumptions about that attack and suggest that the case U.S. officials initially made for retaliatory military action was flawed.
A team of security and arms experts, meeting this week in Washington to discuss the matter, has concluded that the range of the rocket that delivered sarin in the largest attack that night was too short for the device to have been fired from the Syrian government positions where the Obama administration insists they originated.
The report is even harsher than the McClatchy story about it lets one assume. The first page of its presentation (pdf, emphasis added) reads:
- The Syrian Improvised Chemical Munitions that Were Used in the August 21, Nerve Agent Attack in Damascus Have a Range of About 2 Kilometers
- The UN Independent Assessment of the Range of the Chemical Munition Is in Exact Agreement with Our Findings
- This Indicates That These Munitions Could Not Possibly Have Been Fired at East Ghouta from the “Heart”, or from the Eastern Edge, of the Syrian Government Controlled Area Shown in the Intelligence Map Published by the White House on August 30, 2013.
- This mistaken Intelligence Could Have Led to an Unjustified US Military Action Based on False Intelligence.
- A Proper Vetting of the Fact That the Munition Was of Such Short Range Would Have Led to a Completely Different Assessment of the Situation from the Gathered Data
- Whatever the Reasons for the Egregious Errors in the Intelligence, the Source of These Errors Needs to Be Explained.
- If the Source of These Errors Is Not Identified, the Procedures that Led to this Intelligence Failure Will Go Uncorrected, and the Chances of a Future Policy Disaster Will Grow With Certainty.
The short version of this whole story is this: The scientific facts are clear and the White House version of the WMD story is definitely false. These facts are not new but where known when the White House claims were made. Obama (and Kerry) deliberately lied about the WMD attack in Syria to wage an open war against the Syrian government and people. Threatened with a possible conflict with the Russian fleet and a possible impeachment Obama caved in. But he has not yet given up on his aim of regime change and of destroying Syria and its people.
It is time for Congress to investigate who prepared, on who's order, the false claims about chemical weapon use in Syria and to draw consequences.
As Obama Rejects NSA Changes - Need For A New Internet Arises
The still ongoing revelations about aggressive NSA spying on the world have led to hopes that some restrictions would be introduced to it. But that is not going to happen. All President Obama is going to do about it is holding a nice speech that promises to mostly kick the can over to Congress where any reform is bound to die. The NYT previews that speech under the somewhat misleading headline: Obama to Place Some Restraints on Surveillance:
President Obama will issue new guidelines on Friday to curtail government surveillance, but will not embrace the most far-reaching proposals of his own advisers and will ask Congress to help decide some of the toughest issues, according to people briefed on his thinking.
The result seems to be a speech that leaves in place many current programs, but embraces the spirit of reform and keeps the door open to changes later.
Rejecting most of the advice of his own hand selected review committee will reinforce the impression that it is not the president that has upper hand over the security services but that the NSA itself is the one that sets the policies. Even the NSA collection of U.S. phone metadata, which in over a decade has not helped in even one terrorism case, will be kept in its current form.
The latest report on NSA hardware implants in computers and network devices claims that nearly 100,000 pieces of such equipment have been manipulated with NSA hardware devices. A number this high can not have been reached by snitching parcels from delivery services and manipulating those. Many of these implants will have been done at the factory level. U.S. hardware manufacturers will be the first ones to be hurt by this new information. The number also makes clear that this effort has mostly nothing to do with spying on "terrorists" or foreign politicians. There is no way that the throughput of so many devices could somehow be analyzed or even supervised by human beings. These implants are thereby not of defensive nature. Yes, some of them will be used for spying but most of these implents must be for outward aggressive action:
The N.S.A. calls its efforts more an act of “active defense” against foreign cyberattacks than a tool to go on the offensive. But when Chinese attackers place similar software on the computer systems of American companies or government agencies, American officials have protested, often at the presidential level.
[T]he program, code-named Quantum, has also been successful in inserting software into Russian military networks and systems used by the Mexican police and drug cartels, trade institutions inside the European Union, and sometime partners against terrorism like Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan, according to officials and an N.S.A. map that indicates sites of what the agency calls “computer network exploitation.”
The European Union (ex Britain) should wake up and understand the currently U.S. dominated form of the Internet is a weapon against it. The German government's failure in its attempt to arrange for some deeper cooperation and a no-spying agreement with the U.S. showed that the U.S. can not be trusted:
"We are not getting anything," the newspaper quotes a source from within the German foreign intelligence agency. "The Americans have lied to us," said another source.
The NSA efforts to weaken encryption and to abuse software and hardware bugs instead of fixing them is endangering everyone's security, including that of the U.S. itself.
There is need for a new Internet based on open source and publicly reviewed hardware and software. Proprietary systems can not be trusted. The EU (ex-Britain) could launch a program to develop such a network. This would be a decade long public effort comparable to the development of the Ariane rockets and the Airbus industry. Both these projects succeeded despite U.S. efforts to sabotage them. A precondition of such a new program are EU laws for strict privacy and laws that forbid its own security services to preemptively try to manipulate the development of the new network systems. Only with such laws, and severe penalties in place, could such a development create the trust that has been lost in the Internet in its current form.
Obama's Pivot Requires Serious Negotiations With Iran
In recent negotiations with Iran the United States again tried to fudge on Iran's right to enrich Uranium. Only severe pressure from Russia and China reversed that stand and made a deal possible. Writes the Washington Post:
Iran and six world powers took a significant and hard-won step toward nuclear rapprochement on Sunday, announcing a deal to implement a landmark agreement that caps Iran’s disputed nuclear program in return for a modest easing of crippling economic sanctions.
The weeks of bargaining to put the November agreement in force were more difficult than anticipated, with one brief walkout by Iranian envoys and rancor among the bloc of nations that negotiated the deal. Russia and China, long Iran’s protectors at the United Nations, pushed the United States to accept technical concessions that further make clear that Iran will retain the ability to enrich uranium, a key Iranian demand, once a final set of restrictions on its program is approved.
Russia and China threatened to ignore the sanctions and to thereby enable Iran to continue its nuclear program without limits while reviving its economy. The threat was issued via a Reuters "exclusive" on Friday afternoon:
Iran and Russia are negotiating an oil-for-goods swap worth $1.5 billion a month that would enable Iran to lift oil exports substantially, undermining Western sanctions that helped persuade Tehran in November to agree to a preliminary deal to curb its nuclear program.
Russian and Iranian sources close to the barter negotiations said final details were in discussion for a deal under which Russia would buy up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods.
Should such an agreement happen "western" equipment, exported to Russia and China, would easily find its way to Iran. Russia and Iran are connected through the Caspian Sea where the U.S. has no capabilities to enforce a blockade.
For now the Obama administration has given in to the Russian pressure but the difficulties will only increase with the negotiations of a permanent deal. Russia and China have now clearly set limits to the outrageous demands the U.S. is making. Even U.S. allies press for the end of sanctions and a quick deal:
Speaking to the BBC’s Jon Sopel, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, spoke about a number of political issues in the region, in particular the Syrian conflict, sanctions on Iran and the future of Egypt.
The interview mentions the need to lift sanctions on Iran to secure better cooperation in the country’s nuclear disarmament process.
“Iran is our neighbour and we don’t want any problem. Lift the sanctions and everyone will benefit,” said Sheikh Mohammed.
The Dubai Ruler also said he believed Iran is telling the truth when saying they only intend to use nuclear technology for civilian means.
“I talked to Ahmadinejad and he said ‘if I send a rocket to Israel, how many Palestinians will I kill. And then the US and Europe will destroy my cities. I’m not crazy to go for that. It’s a weapon of the past’,” he said.
Obama has no other sane option but to seriously go for a permanent deal. If he does not get one the sanction regime will surely fall apart. Neither is a war on Iran a viable alternative. Attacking Iran, which is not developing nuclear weapons, under some "non-proliferation" argument would destroy the U.S. moral-political position in the world while such an attack could not hinder but would justify Iran to start striving for a nuclear deterrent. Additionally a war in the Persian Gulf would be devastating for the world economy. "Containment", without an effective sanction regime, is no containment at all and not serious option.
Obama wants a U.S. "pivot to Asia". To achieve such a reduction of U.S. engagement in the Middle East is a necessity. Neither Israel nor Saudi Arabia want that. They want to keep U.S. attention on their perceived enemies. But the U.S. can not further engage in Asia and stay fully deployed in the Middle East. It is either or.
The Zionist are pressing Congress to blow up the negotiations with Iran by legislating new uni-lateral U.S. sanctions on third parties. Obama can blame himself for having enabled such self defeating "suffocating sanction" strategy. That strategy is failing and the way out of it will be difficult for him. But Congress will not dare to vote directly for a war on Iran.
If Obama would negotiate in good faith with Iran the United States could acquire a serious and reliable partner in the Gulf and enable its pivot to Asia. But playing games, as Obama again tried last week until Russia stepped in, will leave it with a mostly unenforceable Iran "containment" strategy that will drain its resources and leave the pivot to Asia an under-resourced dream.
The Butcher Is Dead
The MSM are not all alike. The BBC at least is listing some of his war crimes.
May he burn in hell.
U.S., Fearing Terrorists, Provides Them With Weapons
The U.S. government has some rather amazing contradictions in its policy towards the foreign sponsored insurgents in Syria. While one piece in the New York Times today is fear mongering on Syria Militants Said to Recruit Visiting Americans to Attack U.S. another one has officials say that the U.S. Considers Resuming Nonlethal Aid to Syrian Opposition even if that aid goes to the same Islamists that turn U.S. citizen to potential terrorists.
From the first piece:
The Obama administration is considering the resumption of nonlethal military aid to Syria’s moderate opposition, senior administration officials said on Thursday, even if some of it ends up going to the Islamist groups that are allied with the moderates.
Administration officials insisted that no aid would be directly supplied to the Islamic Front, an umbrella for half a dozen rebel groups who favor the creation of an orthodox Islamic state in Syria. Aid would continue to be funneled exclusively through the Supreme Military Council, the military wing of moderate, secular Syrian opposition.
But a senior administration official said: “You have to take into account questions of how the S.M.C. and the Islamic Front are interacting on the ground,” adding, “There’s no way to say 100 percent that it would not end up in the hands of the Islamic Front.”
The U.S. is of course currently continuing to provide weapons and training to some of the insurgent outfits. The discussion about "aid" is only about the "civilian" part (which includes some weapons) that the State department provides. What the CIA and the Pentagon provide is not under discussion. The piece is bit revealing in that when it describes the FSA warehouse with U.S. goods the Islamist had raided:
The administration has also struggled to learn what precisely happened in the early hours of Dec. 7, when the Islamic Front seized control of warehouses in Atmeh, in northern Syria, that contained the American-supplied aid, including food rations, medical kits and vehicles.
Mr. Ford has told analysts, the Islamic Front has returned the warehouses and their contents, with the exception of light arms and ammunition.
Also mentioned in this piece is that the Islamic Front and other FSA outlets are cooperating with the Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra:
The risk, some analysts said, is not that the American aid would end up in the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, but with the Nusra Front, another powerful rebel group that the United States believes has links to Al Qaeda but which many rebels view as an effective combatant against Mr. Assad. The Nusra Front is not a part of the Islamic Front, but it has close ties to some groups that are under the front’s umbrella.
The Nusra Front is also the group that is allegedly training U.S. citizens to become terrorists. From the first piece:
Islamic extremist groups in Syria with ties to Al Qaeda are trying to identify, recruit and train Americans and other Westerners who have traveled there to get them to carry out attacks when they return home, according to senior American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.
Eric G. Harroun, a former Army soldier from Phoenix, was indicted in Virginia by a federal grand jury last year on charges related to allegations that he fought alongside the Nusra Front, one of the Syrian opposition groups linked to Al Qaeda. In September, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge involving conspiracy to transfer defense articles and services, and was released from custody.
The Obama administration is now planing, and announcing such in the NYT, to do exactly what Eric G. Harroun pleaded guilty to do. To provide defense articles and services to Syrian insurgents well knowing that these are quite likely to end up with the Nusra Front and other Jihadi outlets. It provides these while knowing that they will probably be used to train U.S. citizens to commit terrorist acts in the United States.
One could attribute this to divergent streams of incompetence within the Obama administration. But the two pieces side by side in today's NYT are more like a big stinking finger shown to the U.S. people: "You better fear those terrorists and now watch us how we create more of them." How will the people feel about that?