Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 07, 2017

Open Thread 2017-18

News & views ...

Posted by b at 12:30 PM | Comments (110)

May 06, 2017

Elections In France

Many readers here will likely be more versed in the intrigues of the elections in France than I am.

It seems clear so far the the synthetic Rothschild candidate will win this round.

But what will be the long-term outcome in the epic fight of globalists versus nationalists - in France, in Europe and elsewhere?

 

Posted by b at 03:46 AM | Comments (135)

May 05, 2017

Reuters Attempts "Open Source" Analysis - Perilous Fail Ensues

The news agency Reuters/Thomson snitches on North Korean ship movements to suggest how sanctions could mess up commerce between North Korea (DPRK) and China.

China’s grip on North Korea’s economy

The Trump administration has pressured China to do more to rein in North Korea, which sends most of its exports to its giant neighbour across the Yellow Sea. We take a look at the impact of China’s recent ban on North Korean coal and other ways Pyongyang relies on China. - May 4, 2017

But the data Reuters uses is unreliable and the news agency is drawing dubious conclusions from it. Such reporting by an official news agency can easily lead to wrong assumptions in the political sphere and to unhelpful if not dangerous policies.

Reuters uses public available data from the Automatic Identification System (AIS) of DPRK ships to identify their destination and load conditions, But the only "automatic" data AIS is transmitting from the ship's transponder to other ships and land stations is position, direction and speed. Even these can be spoofed or be wrong for various reasons. Other AIS data is entered manually into the AIS systems and is often false. Wikipedia notes of AIS data types:

Message 5: Static and Voyage Related Data - Gives information on a ship and its trip - One of the few messages whose data is entered by hand. This information includes static data such as a ship's length, width, draught, as well as the ship's intended destination

Using open source data Reuters looks at ships involved in coal exports from the DPRK to China using AIS derived data.


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Of the North Korean vessel Hae Bang San it writes:

Cont. reading: Reuters Attempts "Open Source" Analysis - Perilous Fail Ensues

Posted by b at 04:51 AM | Comments (50)

May 04, 2017

How Anand Gopal Directed People To Join ISIS And Shills For "Regime Change" In Syria

Anand Gopal built his career as a writer with on the ground reporting from Afghanistan where he embedded with the Taliban. He gave some insight into their motivations.

Anand Gopal is now a shill for the U.S. "regime change" crimes in Syria. He is also attempting to justify the existence and crimes of ISIS by attributing those to a "legit" motivation. That is a convenient excuse for those who join ISIS.

People joined ISIS because of the "sheer brutality of the Assad regime" Gopal asserts. They joined ISIS in Iraq, in Libya, in Mali and Afghanistan for the "sheer brutality of the Assad regime"? They blew themselves up in Paris, London and elsewhere for the "sheer brutality of the Assad regime"? That claim is obviously not only simplistic but utter nonsense.

There is however reason to believe that people joined ISIS in Syria is because the "western" media hyped ISIS by promulgating its propaganda, found excuses for its crimes and because Anand Gopal directed them [*see update below] to advice on how to travel to Syria to join ISIS:

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In his recent interview with Democracy Now Gopal makes several assertions that are completely contradicted by the public and historic record and are thus evidently lies:

Cont. reading: How Anand Gopal Directed People To Join ISIS And Shills For "Regime Change" In Syria

Posted by b at 02:01 AM | Comments (118)

May 03, 2017

Syria Summary - A New Russian Proposal And A Battle For The South

Russia is extremely active in search of a diplomatic way forward in the Syria conflict. Last month talks were held in Russia with the Syrian foreign minister and the Iranian foreign minister. New plans were discussed and agreed upon.

A few days ago Russia's foreign minister had talks with the U.S. Secretary of State. This week a visit of Merkel to Putin followed. On the same day Putin had a phone-call with Trump. A new round of the Astana piece talks under Russian sponsorship with the Syrian opposition and a Syrian government delegation is ongoing. (Unlike before the U.S. dispatched a high State Department official to this round.) Today Putin met with the Turkish president Erdogan.

Russia is offering a proposal for "de-escalation zones":

According to the documents obtained by Sputnik, Russia proposed to set up four security zones — in the Idlib province, to the north of the city of Homs, in Eastern Ghouta and in the south of the country.

The rough draft offers:

  • - de-escalation zones aimed to "put an immediate end to the violence" and "to provide conditions for safe, voluntary return of refugees"
  • - security zones or buffers created around the de-escalation zones with checkpoints and monitoring centers manned by Syrian government troops and "rebels"
  • - military units from unspecified "observer countries" could be deployed to these security zones
  • - Turkey, Iran and Russia are named as as guarantors and will create a joint working group immediately after the de-escalation is agreed upon between the Syrian parties.

The crux with the proposal is of course al-Qaeda which rules in Idleb and is also an important power in the other areas. Russia offers the de-escalation zones as a way to further negotiations and settlement only under the condition that al-Qaeda is eliminated from the zones. In the press conference with Erdogan Putin emphasized this position:

"About terrorists, in spite of creation of these zones the war on terror will be ongoing - against such organizations as so-called Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and those ones that are put on the list of terrorist organizations approved by the United Nations," Putin said.

But by now the "rebels" are to a large part associated with Jabhat al-Nusra aka al-Qaeda. The al-Qaeda terrorist hardcore is the backbone of their army. The U.S. sees al-Qaeda, at least temporarily, as a valuable proxy. They will surely not agree to give up on that.

Cont. reading: Syria Summary - A New Russian Proposal And A Battle For The South

Posted by b at 01:39 PM | Comments (78)

May 02, 2017

Enemies Are Always Dictators - Talking With Them Is Unpresidential

Welcoming and supporting dictators who act in U.S. interests is the usual behavior of any U.S. president. U.S. media support such.


Obama greeting the hereditary dictator of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev

But when Trump talks and meets some head of state who works for the interests of his own country, he is breaking some iron rule of established U.S. foreign policy. In FP-circles  "talking with the enemy" is seen as sincere crime. Trump invited the duly elected president of Philippine Rodrigo Duerte and mused casually about meeting the DPRK head of state Kim Jong-il. Both are seen as insufficiently deferring to U.S. diktats.

Thus someone in Washington DC ordered up a media campaign depicting Donald Trump as coddling dictators.

The Washington Post responded with an op-ed and an "analysis". Both border on satire:

Trump keeps praising international strongmen, alarming human rights advocates

As he settles into office, President Trump’s affection for totalitarian leaders has grown beyond Russia’s president to include strongmen around the globe.
...
In an undeniable shift in American foreign policy, Trump is cultivating authoritarian leaders, one after another, in an effort to reset relations following an era of ostracism and public shaming by Obama and his predecessors.
...
Every American president since at least the 1970s has used his office [at least occasionally*] to champion human rights and democratic values around the world.
...
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said “This is a man who has boasted publicly about killing his own citizens,” Cardin said of Duterte in a statement. “The United States is unique in the world because our values — respect for human rights, respect for the rule of law — are our interests. Ignoring human rights will not advance U.S. interests in the Philippines or any place else. Just the opposite.”
[* the words "at least occasionally" were added only after the original piece was mocked on Twitter and elsewhere.]

Yes, the U.S. of course never ignored human rights in the Philippines... (/snark)

There surely is a certain "uniqueness" in U.S. global political behavior. But its is certainly not engagement for "human rights". It is exactly the opposite. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt remarked about a blood dictator: "Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch."

The NYT joins today's anti-Trump/anti-Duerte campaign with an editorial and a racist cartoon:

The United States has long seen itself as a beacon of democracy and a global advocate of human rights and the rule of law. It has faltered, sometimes badly, undermining leaders whose views did not fit its strategic objectives and replacing them with pliant despots. Yet for the most part American presidents, Republican and democratic, have believed that the United States should provide a moral compass to the world, encouraging people to pursue their right to self-government and human dignity and rebuking foreign leaders who fall short.

Who believes such marketing bullshit? Fact is that the U.S. has always coddled dictators as long as they did what it asked them to do. Clinton, Bush, Obama all welcomed various theocratic sheiks and murderous dictators at the White House. Since World War II the U.S. has attempted or succeeded in "regime change" over 50 times. It did not care if those countries were dictatorships or staunch democracies like France or Australia. In fact none of these illegal interference was motivated by "human rights". Many succeeded in eliminating progressive democracies by installing murderous right-wing regimes.

Bush invaded Iraq based of lies willingly peddled by the New York Time and the Washington Post. Obama directly ordered American citizens killed by drones and without any legal procedure. U.S. police shoot dozens of innocent each year, but when drug dealers get killed in a Philippine police raid its elected president is called a "strongman". Meanwhile U.S. they U.S. directed war on drugs in Mexico has killed thousands.

It is obviously helpful for U.S. interest when its president meets and proselytizes those who are not fully on the U.S. side. One makes peace with one's enemies, not with friends. But such logic does work in the establishment's deluded minds.

Any head of state disliked by the establishment is called a strongman, totalitarian, autocrat or dictator. The real reason for such characterization has nothing to do with democracy, elections or "human rights". It is rather the "thuggish anti-American behavior" of some leader as one U.S. imperialist calls it. "Thuggish anti-American behavior" is automatically attributed to any head of state who works foremost in the interests of his own country.

What do writers and editors like the above think when they peddle such mythology? They know that it is evidently contradicted by facts their own papers report on other occasions.

George Orwell called this "doublethink", the ability to simultaneously hold two contradictory beliefs in one's mind and to accept both of them. Is that not just another form of insanity?

Posted by b at 10:33 AM | Comments (61)

May 01, 2017

May 1st - International Labor Day

Posted by b at 02:18 PM | Comments (39)

April 30, 2017

Dumb And Vile - Independent Falls For Prank, Smears Other Journalists

The British daily Independent falls for a hilarious prank. It interprets some random lines on a picture of the Okay-gesture as a political message. Having thus failed it builds on its own stupidity to smear other outlets and journalists.

The anonymous Internet message board 4chan.org is well known for hilarious stunts played on ignorants and naive Internet novices.

4chan users have been instrumental in pranks such as hijacking Internet destinations to cause images of Rick Astley to appear in place of their content, coordinating attacks against other websites and Internet users, and posting threats of violence in order to elicit individual and public reactions. The Guardian once summarized the 4chan community as "lunatic, juvenile [...] brilliant, ridiculous and alarming."

In February 2017 some users of the 4chan sub-board for political incorrect stuff /pol/ launched a prank campaign to convince people that the "okay" hand-gesture, widely used with positive connotation, actually stands for White Power. The OK gesture is not cultural universal, but it is also not racist in any way or form:

The gesture is widely used to mean "all is well" or "good". Where the word "OK" may mean a thing is merely satisfactory or mediocre, as in "the food was OK", the gesture is commonly understood as a signal of approval, and is sometimes used synonymously with the Western "thumbs up" gesture.


One of hundreds of OK-sign stock photo: "Happy executive man"

Then 4chan starts its prank:

Cont. reading: Dumb And Vile - Independent Falls For Prank, Smears Other Journalists

Posted by b at 05:16 AM | Comments (65)

April 29, 2017

"If You Take East-Syria, I'll Take That Yemeni Port"

Will the U.S. leave Syria if doing so prevents a Russian fleet in Yemen?

The question seems weird but if Russia succeeds with its negotiations in Yemen it will soon have to be asked.

A U.S. neoconservative outlet recently published an interesting but mostly unsourced bit about Yemen:

Russia is mediating negotiations for a political solution to the Yemen conflict outside of UN channels as a means to secure naval bases in Yemen. Russia is pursuing political negotiations with the UAE and former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh by beginning to discuss the future consensus Yemeni government. Saleh’s support for the Houthis is critical for the al Houthi-Saleh bloc to retain its influence across northern and central Yemen. The UAE may see this settlement as a way to halt the expansion of Iran’s influence in Yemen and to limit bearing further costs associated with the Yemeni war. Saleh previously expressed willingness to grant Russia military basing rights in Yemen. This basing would allow Russia to project power into one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in the Red Sea and the Bab al Mandab strait, a global maritime chokepoint.

Back in August 2016 the former Yemeni president Saleh had indeed made an offer to Russia:

"In the fight against terrorism we reach out and offer all facilities. Our airports, our ports... We are ready to provide this to the Russian Federation," Saleh said in an interview in Sanaa.

No one (but Russia?) took Saleh serious at that time. He was not, and is not, in a position to achieve control over Aden in southern Yemen nor any other relevant Yemeni port.

I also doubted the recent report. Yes, until the early 1990s the Soviet Union had bases in southern Yemen and thousands of military advisers and trainers worked in the country. But Russia currently does not have the naval resources, nor the immediate interest, to open a new base in the area. Or so I thought.

But a well-informed source in Yemen dispelled my doubts. It confirmed the report. Russia is negotiating with the UAE, the Houthi/Saleh alliance and the various southern groups in Yemen over a peace deal and has been doing so for the last six month. The deal would include Russian naval basing rights in Aden.


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The red lights must be flashing at CENTCOM, the Pentagon and the National Security Council. For the last twenty-five years the Arab Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea were largely U.S. controlled waters. That China recently opened an "anti-piracy" base in Djibouti has already led to concerns. Now the Russians are coming!!!

Cont. reading: "If You Take East-Syria, I'll Take That Yemeni Port"

Posted by b at 12:30 PM | Comments (42)

April 28, 2017

Open Thread 2017-17

News & views ...

Posted by b at 02:10 PM | Comments (187)

April 27, 2017

How Bio-Weapons Led To Torture ... And North Korean Nukes

In Why North Korea Needs Nukes - And How To End That we pointed to the utter destruction the U.S. and its allies waged in the war on Korea on all parts of the country. That North Korea seeks "weapons of mass destruction" is quite understandable when one takes into account the hundreds of thousands tons of napalm used against it. But even Napalm and the criminal destruction of North Korean dams were not the worst depravation the U.S. applied. Biological warfare agents, primarily anthrax, were dropped over North Korea and China and killed civilians. The U.S./UN command denied such use and covered it up. One consequence of that cover up was the development of torture methods in the U.S. SERE pilot training programs and their later proliferation into criminal abuses in Guantanamo, Abu Graibh and elsewhere. An important piece of evidence of this trail was recently and for the first time re-published on the web

In the 1950s war on Korea heavy air to air fights were waged near the Chinese border which led to significant losses of airplane on both sides especially along the MiG Alley:

USAF pilots nicknamed April 12, 1951 "Black Thursday", after 30 MiG-15s attacked three squadrons of B-29 bombers (36 planes) escorted by approximately 100 F-80s and F-84s. The MiGs were fast enough to engage the B-29s and extend away from their escorts. Three B-29s were shot down and seven more were damaged, with no casualties on the communist side.

On "Black Thursday" and other occasions U.S. bomber pilots were captured. Some of them admitted to have dropped biological weapons over China and northern Korea. Their confessions were published in writing and publicized on Korean, Chinese and Russian radio.

The U.S. (UN) command under U.S. General MacArthur denied any use of biological warfare agents. It claimed that the downed pilots were tortured to give false confessions.

Since World War II the U.S. Airforce and Navy had established training courses in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) for pilots that might be captured by enemies. During these courses interrogations were staged to provide realistic training. After the Korea War anti-torture training was added. Torture of "prisoners" was "simulated" with the trainees. Decades later, during the war of terror and on Iraq, the CIA hired two psychologists as "behavioral science consultants" from the SERE training staff to teach its agents how to use torture on prisoners. The absolutely inhuman and dangerous methods those SERE "experts" devised proliferated to the U.S. military which, together with the CIA, used them on alleged enemy combatants in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other places.

According to the Senate Armed Services Committee Report (pdf) on U.S. torturing of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and CIA black sites, SERE techniques originated in Chinese Communist methods in the Korean War employed to extract false confessions from captured U.S. personal.

(During the 1960s the CIA itself developed additional "scientific" torture methods and published them in the KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation and Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual. U.S. personal as well as several south American militia were trained in and used these abusive and illegal methods.)

Cont. reading: How Bio-Weapons Led To Torture ... And North Korean Nukes

Posted by b at 08:47 AM | Comments (107)

April 25, 2017

Turkish Airstrikes On Kurds Complicate U.S. Operations In Iraq And Syria

A few hour ago the Turkish airforce hit Kurdish and Yezidi positons on both sides of the Singal mountains in east-Syria and west-Iraq. Near Derik in east-Syria more than 20 bombs destroyed a YPG headquarter, a radio station and a media center. At least nine YPK fighters were killed. The YPG is the Syrian sister organization of the Kurdish PKK in Turkey. The PKK is a designated terrorist organization. Within Syria U.S. special forces are embedded with the YPG and are coordinating YPG moves against the Islamic State in Raqqa. YPK and PKK follow the anarcho-marxist theories of their leader Abdullah Öcalan who is in isolation detention in Turkey.

The Turkish airstrike in Iraq hit YPG and Peshmerga positions near Shingal where they protect a displaced person camp of Yezidis. The Yezidis are an ancient religious minority. The Peshmerga are the main Kurdish militia in Iraq. They are controlled by Kurdish regional government. At least five Peshmerga fighters, all followers of Barzani clan, were killed and several more wounded. The Barzani family holds all important position in Iraq's Kurdistan - president, premier, intelligence chief and several others. Its election mandate has long run out but it simply ignores the regional parliament and rules through force and bribes. The Barzani clan is allied with Turkey and the U.S. It allows the Turkish army to operate several bases within its area. The U.S. is operating from Erbil airport in the Iraqi-Kurdish area. The oil pumped from wells in the Kurdish area is sold by the Barzanis to Turkey. The Turkish hit on Barzani fighters is deeply embarrassing for them and may incite new protest against the Barzani' quasi dictatorship.

The YPK is training Yezidi self defense forces. This is against the Barzanis' interest who sees their monopoly force in the area endangered.

Turkey is a U.S. ally and the U.S. has several bases in Turkey which it uses to fight the Islamic State. The U.S. is also allied and operates with the YPG in Syria and the Peshmerga of the Barzani clan in Iraq. The airspace in east Syria and north-west Iraq supposedly under U.S. control. There will be some serious explaining to do why the U.S. did not prevent one of its allies from bombing its other allies. Did it agree to this Turkish attack? Either way U.S. operation in the area will experience new difficulties.

Turkey has also threatened to invade the Kurdish held areas in east-Syria at Tal Abjad to move onto Raqqa and thereby split the Kurdish held areas.


Map by Winep - bigger

The primary winner of these Turkish operations is the Islamic State.

The YPK is now likely to divert forces from the U.S. led attack on the Islamic State in Raqqa to protect against further Turkish adventures. The PKK within Turkey may restart its guerrilla campaign against the Turkish military. The Barzani clan will come under renewed pressure by Kurdish people in Iraq as well as by the Iraqi government to loosen its ties with Turkey. All sides will blame the U.S. and its operations against Syria and the Islamic State.

The whole mess in Syria and Iraq thus becomes even more complicate than it already was.

Posted by b at 04:05 AM | Comments (102)

April 24, 2017

Syria Summary - U.S. Moves To Cut Off The East - But For What?

The situation in the north-west Syria is turning favor of the Syrian government, though much work needs to be done. The army is recovering new ground in Hama governate and an intense bombing campaign is waged over Idelb governate which is held by al-Qaeda. As an analyst generally in favor of the opposition concedes:

Continued support for the northwest insurgency amounts to effectively subsidizing a jihadist safe haven in the Levant.
...
The proxy war against the Syrian regime in the northwest, for the West, is lost.

The head of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, agrees. He tells his forces in Syria stop holding land and to revert to guerilla war:

Ayman al-Zawahri told the jihadis, who control Syria's northwestern Idlib province and other territory, to remain steadfast and change tactics in order to wage guerrilla war.

Al-Qaida began fighting alongside Syria's rebels early in the civil war and won allies among the opposition because of its military prowess. Al-Qaida's official branch, the Nusra Front, changed its name to the Fatah al-Sham Front and formally cut ties with al-Qaida last year, but is still widely seen as being linked to the global terror network.


Map via ISW - bigger

In the south-west Israel is trying to steal another part of the Golan Heights by giving fire support for al-Qaeda groups which fight against the Syrian army in the area.

Attacks by "moderate rebels" in the south, supported by the U.S. and Jordan, have failed to take ground in the city of Deraa. They need to take the city to have some anchor for an "independent" southern "safe zone" from which the U.S. proxies could then threaten Damascus.

Cont. reading: Syria Summary - U.S. Moves To Cut Off The East - But For What?

Posted by b at 01:48 PM | Comments (84)

April 23, 2017

Poll: The Democratic Party Is In Deep Trouble

After the presidential election the Democratic Party and its supporting media pushed unreasonable stories of secret Russian support for Trump's election as a main reason for Clinton's loss. The party avoided to discuss the real reasons: an unpopular candidate and its out-of-touch polices.

The diversion attempt failed. That is at least what I read from a just published ABC News/Washington Post poll:

[T]he national survey [...] finds some brighter spots for the president –- chiefly in pushing for jobs and in foreign policy [...]
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[The poll] finds no evidence of buyer's remorse among Trump supporters. Among those who report having voted for him in November, 96 percent today say it was the right thing to do; a mere 2 percent regret it.
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In March 2014, 48 percent of Americans said the Democratic Party was out of touch with the concerns of most people. Today 67 percent say so. And the biggest change has occurred chiefly among the party's own typical loyalists, with "out of touch" ratings up 33 points among liberals, 30 points among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents and 26 points among moderates and nonwhites alike.
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Among Americans who say they voted in the 2016 election, 46 percent say they voted for Hillary Clinton and 43 percent for Trump, very close to the 2-point margin in the actual popular vote results. However, while Trump would retain almost all of his support if the election were held again today (96 percent), fewer of Clinton's supporters say they’d stick with her (85 percent), producing a 40-43 percent Clinton-Trump result in this hypothetical re-do among self-reported 2016 voters.

The people are not falling for the Democratic Party scam of "Russian interference". They obviously see the fault where it belongs. Unless the party shuns its Clinton/Obama legacy and reengages in voter-oriented politics it is likely to fail again and again.

And no - promoting Chelsea Clinton will not do anything good at all.

Posted by b at 10:25 AM | Comments (78)

April 22, 2017

Open Thread 2017-16

News & views ...

Posted by b at 09:23 AM | Comments (141)

April 21, 2017

U.S.: 'No doubt' That Villain-Of-The-Day Has Banned Weapons

Mattis: 'No doubt' Syrian regime has chemical weapons, April 21, 2017

"There can be no doubt in the international community's mind that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of its agreement and its statement that it had removed them all. There is no longer any doubt," Mattis told reporters.

Full text of Dick Cheney's speech, August 27, 2002

Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors ...

“Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.”

― Edmund Burke

Posted by b at 01:04 PM | Comments (85)

April 20, 2017

Chlorine, Not Sarin, Was Used In The Khan Sheikhun Incident

Those who blame the Syrian government for the allegedly chemical incident in Khan Sheikhun on April 4 are now playing up the analysis of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). But the results of the OPCW tests are inconsistent with all observed and reported technical and medical facts of the incident.

Yesterday the OPCW Director General Ambassador Üzümcü, a Turkish career diplomat and former Turkish ambassador to NATO,  released the first analytic results of the OPCW investigation into the Khan Sheikhun incident:

The bio-medical samples collected from three victims during their autopsy were analysed at two OPCW designated laboratories. The results of the analysis indicate that the victims were exposed to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance. Bio-medical samples from seven individuals undergoing treatment at hospitals were also analysed in two other OPCW designated laboratories. Similarly, the results of these analyses indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance.

Director-General Üzümcü stated clearly: “The results of these analyses from four OPCW designated laboratories indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance.

"Sarin or Sarin-like substance" is noted three times a row. Sarin is also mentioned in the headline. The OPCW director is pushing that meme - hard.

But the OPCW did not conclude that a chemical attack occurred in Khan Sheikhun. It suggested nothing about the incident itself. It only talked about bio-medical samples of several persons - nothing more, nothing less. It also did not give any hint of how much exposure the persons in question received. Was it a minimal traceable amount that had no effect on them or did they die from it? The OPCW does not say.

The Russian foreign ministry claims that "western" powers within the OPCW block a full-scale investigation of the incident.

The "sarin like substances" the OPCW mentions could be a different chemical weapon than sarin - soman is a possible candidate. It would be more consistent with the "smell" several witnesses described after the incident (Sarin is odorless). Many general insecticides belong to the same class of chemicals as sarin and soman. They are all organophosphorus compounds. (Sarin was originally developed as an insecticide). All of such compounds could be a source of the exposure found by the OPCW. These chemicals degrade within hours or days. A forensic analysis will not find the original substance but only decomposition products of some organophosporus compound. That is the reason why the OPCW result is not fixed on sarin but also mentions "sarin like substances".

Another question is where those samples come from. Who "collected" them? When? Where? And what is the chain of evidence that connects the samples to the incident? The OPCW has not send an investigation team to Khan Sheikhun. No samples were taken in Khan Sheikhun by its own inspectors. While Russia and Syria have asked for OPCW inspections on the ground, Tahrir al-Sham, the renamed al-Qaeda in Syria which controls the Khan Sheikhun area, has not asked for inspectors. Without its agreement any investigation mission is perceived as too dangerous. None of the OPCW inspectors is interested in literally losing his head to those terrorists.

Al-Qaeda propaganda organizations in Khan Sheikhun were the first to claim that sarin was used on the ground. "Western" media and governments later repeated those claims before any further investigations could have been done. The very first claim I found was made by the former British doctor Shajul Islam who works for the terrorists. This video of him of "doctors "and "patients" in an emergence room in Khan Sheikhun is pure theater, taken over a longer time period. The main presenter, Shajul Islam, is a well-known criminal Takfiri with links to the British secret service. He talks of sarin even though the "patients" around him show no signs of sarin effects and the emergency personal in the video is unprotected against potent chemical agents.

A White House assessment later claimed that it had evidence that sarin was used. It used the claim to justify the bombing of the Syrian military airport Al Syairat. But the White House assessment contains no evidence. It includes a number of factually false statements. It claims, for example:

]T]he World Health Organization stated on April 5 that its analysis of victims of the attack in Syria showed the had been exposed to nerve agents

The WHO report from April 5 stated no such thing. It only noted:

Cont. reading: Chlorine, Not Sarin, Was Used In The Khan Sheikhun Incident

Posted by b at 03:26 PM | Comments (72)

April 19, 2017

Libya - More War And Reconciliation

By Richard Galustian

The West retains it's out of touch Libyan policies when in Luca, Italy last week the G7 'warned and commanded' that the fractious warring Libyan parties 'must' work with the dying UN appointed and recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), situated only in a small naval base in Tripoli and its so called Presidency Council (PC). And further ordered Libyans to work together to fix the economic crisis by recognising that the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) need to only collaborate with the GNA/PC, so out of touch with the real issues on the ground in Libya are the G7 Countries. Their language almost expressed in colonial terms!

Other global interference in Libya continues. Most recently also the GNA and Presidency Council (PC) leader Fayez Serraj was seeing the head, at his HQ in Stuttgart, of the United Stated Africa Command (AFRICOM) General Thomas Waldhauser. I didn't know Stuttgart was in Africa?

Other pronouncements of one kind or another backing the phantom GNA appear almost weekly.

All a waste of time, as UN and EU efforts have proven these past years. As far as Serraj is concerned he is unelected by Libyans but chosen by the foreigners. That’s never going to achieve forward progress for Libya’s future.

Cont. reading: Libya - More War And Reconciliation

Posted by b at 04:23 AM | Comments (34)

The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur - Khan Sheikhun Summary Report by Prof. Postol

Update - April 22: "Correction" link added, Chlorine not Sarin link added
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MIT Professor Theodore Postol, a well known missile expert and former scientific advisor to the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, analyzed the available evidence of the alleged April 4 Sarin attack on Khan Sheikhun in Syria. He comes to the conclusion that the White House allegations and its report are false. The White House report was not created or vetted by knowledgeable intelligence analysts. This confirms our own analysis published earlier on Moon of Alabama.

Prof. Postol's summary report: The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur, April 19 (pdf, 18 pages) and a supplementary correction to the summary report regarding the wind direction: IMPORTANT CORRECTION TO The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur, April 21 (pdf, 6 pages).

Previously three preliminary versions of Prof. Postol's analysis were released by him:

(See also my assessment of the validity of "sarin" claims based on the early public news and records: Chlorine, Not Sarin, Was Used In The Khan Sheikhun Incident.)

Pic: NOT the site of a Sarin missile impact as claimed by the White House


source - bigger

Prof. Postol sent the following covering letter with his summary report:

The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur - Summary of Findings

This analysis contains a detailed description of the times and locations of critical events in the alleged nerve agent attack of April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhun, Syria – assuming that the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) issued on April 11, 2017 correctly identified the alleged sarin release site.

Analysis using weather data from the time of the attack shows that a small hamlet about 300 m to the east southeast of the crater could be the only location affected by the alleged nerve agent release. Video data of suffocating and dead victims lying on the ground shows a different location from the predicted sarin dispersal site if it had been correctly identified by the White House.

The conclusion is that the nerve agent attack described in the White House Intelligence Report did not occur as claimed. There may well have been mass casualties from some kind of poisoning event, but that event was not the one described by the WHR.

The findings of this expanded analysis can serve two important purposes:

1. It shows exactly what needs to be determined in an international investigation of this alleged atrocity.

In particular, if an international investigation can determine where casualties from the nerve agent attack lived, it will confirm that the findings reported by the White House Report are incompatible with its own cited data.

2. It also establishes that the White House Report did not utilize simple and widely agreed upon intelligence analysis procedures to determine its conclusions.

This raises troubling questions about how the US political and military leadership determined that the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged attack. It is particularly of concern that the White House Report presented itself as a report with “high confidence” findings and that numerous high-level officials in the US government have confirmed their belief that the report was correct and executed to a standard of high confidence.

Theodore A. Postol

Professor Emeritus of Science,
Technology, and National Security Policy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cont. reading: The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur - Khan Sheikhun Summary Report by Prof. Postol

Posted by b at 03:16 AM | Comments (68)

April 18, 2017

Trump Enthrones Erdogan - Destroys Trust In U.S. Diplomacy

Trump contradicted his speaker, the State Department and his allies by congratulating the Turkish President Erdogan for winning Sunday's referendum vote. He undermined his diplomacy.

Sundays referendum in Turkey makes the presidential office a quasi dictatorial position that leads the executive and can, via decrees, also overrule the legislative and judiciary elements of the state. President Erdogan is now in a dictatorial position. It maybe that a majority of the Turkish voters voted for this change but it is far from certain. The number of votes in doubt because they were not taken in accordance with the legal procedures (2-3 million)  is higher than slight majority lead (1.5 million) for the "yes" side.

Official international election observers noted (pdf) that the vote was neither free nor fair. The Turkish state is under emergency rules which  give the president (temporarily) extraordinary powers. The vote happened after an extreme hunt against anyone that could have endangered Erdogan's position. He jailed opposition politicians and civil servants, forbade some political groups and closed down opposition media. All state institutions were used in support for Erdogan's side. If he could only win by 1.5 million votes in a 80 million strong society after this extreme anti-opposition campaign how many Turks would really have agreed with him on more leveled grounds?

Twenty years ago, when he was mayor of Istanbul, Erdogan said in a Milliyet interview: "Democracy is like a tram ride: when you reach your stop, you get off". On Sunday Erdogan stepped off the tram.

Turkey is now a Tyranny of the Majority. There are no longer any institutional constrains to remove any minority group from the political scene or  maybe even from the physical world. Turkey as we knew it is no more.

EU members refrained from accepting the vote before the ongoing legal fight over it is decided. Only Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf and Central Asian dictatorships congratulated him. The terrorist group Ahrar al Sham, which fights the people and government of Syria, also congratulated Erdogan. Al-Qaeda in Syria, under its new alliance name HTS, joined in as well as other Takfiri groups in Syria.

Like the EU countries the U.S. State Department held out on congratulations. It only released a statement that noted reports of voting "irregularities" and an "uneven playing field". It voiced support for inner-Turkish dialog and legal processes. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the U.S. administration would wait until the final report by the international observers mission was released.

The State Department and the spokesman were quickly undermined by President Trump. Only an hour later the Turkish side reported of a Trump-Erdogan telephone conversation:

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to congratulate him on the referendum victory.

The two leaders had a "pleasant" call which lasted for 45 minutes, diplomatic sources said.

This was later confirmed by a White House readout of the call. (The readout is not yet on the White House website but was sent out to the press via email).

The published content of the call does not bode well for Turkey, Syria and Iraq (emphasis added):

“President Trump and President Erdogan also discussed the counter-ISIS campaign and the need to cooperate against all groups that use terrorism to achieve their ends,” the White House statement said.

The Turkish version of the readout was worse:

The two leaders also discussed an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government on April 4 that killed approximately 100 civilians and injured 500 others in the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province.
..
Trump and Erdoğan agreed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attack.

The U.S. president also thanked Turkey for its support for U.S. missile strikes on the Shayrat air base on April 7 in retaliation for the chemical attack.

Both leaders also stressed the need for cooperation in the fight against terror groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The Khan Sheikhun incident was likely a "false flag" attack initiated by the terrorists on the ground -possibly with Turkish support. The proven number of casualties was far less than the statement claims. The only purpose of the following U.S. missile strikes was to dispel allegations that Trump is in cahoots with Russia.

A question now is who the two countries regard as terrorist groups. The mostly Shia Hizbullah fighting on the Syrian government side is seen as such by both even while it holds parliament positions in Lebanon. While the U.S. agreed to UN Security Council resolutions designating al-Qaeda in Syria as a terrorist group that must be "eradicated", Erdogan is sponsoring and supporting the group. The U.S. is allying with parts of the Kurdish YPK/PKK groups in Syria while Turkey has designated those as terrorist entities. Does the "against all groups that use terrorism" formulation include the Iraqi militia in Syria? Does it include Iran?

What is most concerning is the fact that a 45 minute call is extremely long for such an occasion. We can be sure that plans were made in it that have not yet been published. It is likely that a new, higher level of war against Syrian (and Iran) was agreed upon. Besides the battlefields of Syria there is Turkish military interference in Iraq. Were common plans made for that country too? 

Still one wonders why Trump would undermine his speaker, his State Department and his European allies by contradicting their statements and positions with his Erdogan call. A precedent was set.  Foreign countries can no longer rely on official U.S. administration statements unless Trump personally voices his agreement with them. (Which he may then retract and reverse on a moments notice.) The basis of diplomacy is a certain level of trust in reliability - words and standing by those words matter. The diplomatic standing of the United States was severely damaged by this unprecedented move.

The reversal of the original position of the Trump administration is extreme. From a realist standpoint a much more neutral position towards Erdogan's shenanigans, as shown by the State Department, would be advisable.

Why did Trump reverse it? Has this five year old tweet something to do with it?

Ivanka Trump‏ @IvankaTrump
Thank you Prime Minister Erdogan for joining us yesterday to celebrate the launch of #TrumpTowers Istanbul!
1:56 PM - 20 Apr 2012

Posted by b at 05:39 AM | Comments (72)

April 17, 2017

Goodbye Turkey

The wannbe Sultan of a new Ottoman Reich, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, let his people vote in a referendum about new extensive powers for his office.

Erdogan is the Turkish president since 2014. He has since continuously broken the constitution by wheeling partisan powers way beyond the neutral, only formally executive role the office of the president is supposed to have.

Yesterday's "yes"/"no" vote was allegedly won by the "yes" side with 51.4% of the votes. This even though the "no" vote won in all major cities. In Turkey the vote in the major cities usually reflects the total. The campaign for the vote was very unfair with all state media and offices pushing for a "yes". Opposition politicians were put to jail or threatened with retribution. Media opposing Erdogan were suppressed or completely closed down.

There is significant reasons to believe that the vote count was fraudulently manipulated. On the day of the vote the election commission, stuffed with Erdogan cronies, suddenly allowed ballots without the official stamp to be counted. According to Turkish election laws each ballot, and each envelope of a postal vote, needs to be officially stamped before voting starts. This is supposed to prevent ballot stuffing with ballots printed outside of the official channels. The election commission has given no reason yet why it thought that such a last minute rule change, in opposition to the law, was necessary or even legal. Use of unstamped ballots was reported out of many election localities in rural areas where the "yes" votes now were the majority. Additionally video was recorded of local election workers stamping ballots after they had been used for voting.

The opposition is protesting and will go to court. But it will likely have little success. Erdogan has removed all judges and other legal personal that could go against him. An amateurish coup attempt against him, which he knew about before it happened, was used by him to clean all public offices of people not aligned with his party and program.

The new powers of the presidency will only come into force after the next election for the presidency. But everyone expects that Erdogan will use them right away. With the issue of the referendum put aside Erdogan is now free to escalate interior and exterior conflicts. We can expect new Turkish operations in Syria as well as in Iraq to be launched soon.

In the 1990s I extensively traveled in Turkey - alone, by local buses and mostly in the east. The country was waking up and in an intellectual and commercial growing phase. During the last years a new wave of conservatism has stopped that move. My friends there report of stagnation.

Turkey does not have the economic and intellectual power to become a new Ottoman Reich. It will fail in new expansive endeavors. But the attempt alone will be destructive for Turkey as well as for the countries around it.

Turkey is no longer a democracy. It is now a one man dictatorship with an expansive and distinct Islamist agenda. To change that, should the Turkish people be inclined so, will require the removal of Erdogan through some act of force.

Posted by b at 03:04 PM | Comments (83)

White House Garden Caption Context


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Posted by b at 11:12 AM | Comments (47)

April 16, 2017

Al-Qaeda Suicide Attack Kills 100+ Children, Women - Whodunit?

Updated below, April 17, 3:00am
---

Max Abrahms‏ @MaxAbrahms - 2:07 PM - 16 Apr 2017
After reading dozens of stories about the Shia massacre yesterday in Syria I've come to the conclusion it was perpetrator-less.
The War Nerd‏ @TheWarNerd - 11:53 AM - 16 Apr 2017
We find that "at least 112" Shia refugees were killed. By whom? Oh, it's a real whodunit according to Reuters... link

Two smaller cities in the northern "rebel"-controlled Idleb governate, Al Foa and Kafriya, have been under "rebel" siege for over two years. Local government aligned forces are defending them. The civilian inhabitants are of Shia believe and seen by the sectarian Sunni "rebels" as unbelievers only worthy of death. The cities are supplied by airdrops from government helicopters. Meanwhile two "rebel" controlled cities near Damascus, Zabadani and Madaya, in the south are held under siege by government forces. They are sparsely supplied by UN and Red Cross convoys. Over the years a tit-for-tat of revenge acts bound the fate of the four cities. In total some 20-30,000 people are effected. A wide ranging agreement was needed to solve the unsustainable situation.

In December an agreement had allowed for the exchange of wounded civilians. When buses were on their way to evacuated elderly and wounded from the two northern cities they were torched by some rebel group. New buses had to be send but in the end the exchange worked out.

Last week a new agreement had been reached about a complete population exchange of the cities. All inhabitants of the northern cities were to be brought to government held areas. All inhabitants of the southern cities to the "rebel" held areas. Iran, speaking for the Syrian government, and Qatar, a financer of the radical "rebels", negotiated the deal. There are many other issues involved in the deal including Qatari hostages held by Shia groups in Iraq, very large payment from Qatar to "rebel" groups (al-Qaeda) and some non-disclosed items.

"Rebel" groups in Idelb government are either aligned with al-Qaeda in Syria or with the Qatari sponsored Ahrar al Sham. Ahrar al-Sahm is the group responsible for the execution of the negotiated population exchange. Parts of al-Qaeda have publicly disagreed with the deal.

Yesterday some 5,000 inhabitants of the northern cities, mainly women and children, were brought by bus convoy to the government held city of Aleppo but were stopped while still in the "rebel" controlled area. Inhabitants from the southern city had been brought up to Aleppo and were kept under government guard. Some additional negotiations about a minor issue were going on.

The civilians in their buses, mostly elderly, women and children, were guarded by "rebels" of Ahrar al Sham. They were hungry. Someone appeared on the scene and distributed crisps. When children flocked around the food distribution a blue car drove up and a very large explosion occurred. Four buses full of people and a number of cars were totally destroyed (Pics: 1, 2, 3)

Cont. reading: Al-Qaeda Suicide Attack Kills 100+ Children, Women - Whodunit?

Posted by b at 02:12 PM | Comments (98)

Ostara, Ishtar And A Happy Easter Walk

Easter echoes the eons old human festivity to celebrate the March exquinox (in the northern hemisphere) and the arrival of spring. The dark and cold days of winter are gone. The bright time of fertility has come.

Today's fertility symbols of Easter, the egg and the hare, relate to the old Germanic fertility goddess Eostre (Ostara). Ishtar, a Mesopotamian goddess of love, stepped down into the underworld of death but was revived. The Christian resurrection of Jesus is probably a transformation of this older hopeful tale.

When the Christian message spread from its eastern Mediterranean origin its incorporation of old local gods and fables helped to convert the multi-theistic societies to the new monotheistic* believe. The gods of the pre-Christian religions were not completely discarded but their tales transformed to support the new united message the Christian preachers were spreading.

But whatever. - It is spring, the darkness vanishes and it is my favored holiday. This year the Julian and Gregorian calendars coincide. We thus follow the Russian Barbarians and wish us all

Happy Easter


Faberge egg with spring flowers and music box- bigger

Please join me, v. Goethe and Dr. Faust in our traditional Easter Walk:

Look from this height whereon we find us
Back to the town we have left behind us,

Where from the dark and narrow door
Forth a motley multitude pour.

They sun themselves gladly and all are gay,
They celebrate Christ's resurrection to-day.

For have not they themselves arisen?
From smoky huts and hovels and stables,
From labor's bonds and traffic's prison,
From the confinement of roofs and gables,
From many a cramping street and alley,
From churches full of the old world's night,
All have come out to the day's broad light.
...
How it hums o'er the fields and clangs from the steeple!
This is the real heaven of the people,
Both great and little are merry and gay,
I am a man, too, I can be, to-day.

*The Christian Trinity, the three aspects of the one God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is a doctrinaire addition of the 4th century. It just adds an explanatory layer on top of the Abrahamic core of the monotheistic Christian message.

Posted by b at 07:25 AM | Comments (34)

April 15, 2017

Open Thread 2017-15

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:25 PM | Comments (145)

April 14, 2017

Why North Korea Needs Nukes - And How To End That

(Updated below)
---

Media say,
the U.S. may
or may not
kill a number of North Koreans
for this or that
or no reason
but call North Korea
'the volatile and unpredictable regime'

b.

Now consider what the U.S. media don't tell you about Korea:

BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) -- China proposed "double suspension" to defuse the looming crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday.

"As a first step, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) may suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the suspension of large-scale U.S.-Republic of Korea (ROK) military exercises," Wang told a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress.
...
Wang said the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is mainly between the DPRK and the United States, but China, as a next-door neighbor with a lips-and-teeth relationship with the Peninsula, is indispensable to the resolution of the issue.

FM Wang, 'the lips', undoubtedly transmitted an authorized message from North Korea: "The offer is (still) on the table and China supports it."

North Korea has made the very same offer in January 2015. The Obama administration rejected it. North Korea repeated the offer in April 2016 and the Obama administration rejected it again. This March the Chinese government conveyed and supported the long-standing North Korean offer. The U.S. government, now under the Trump administration, immediately rejected it again. The offer, made and rejected three years in a row, is sensible. Its rejection only led to a bigger nuclear arsenal and to more missiles with longer reach that will eventually be able to reach the United States.

North Korea is understandably nervous each and every time the U.S. and South Korea launch their very large yearly maneuvers and openly train for invading North Korea and for killing its government and people. The maneuvers have large negative impacts on North Korea's economy.

North Korea justifies its nuclear program as the economically optimal way to respond to these maneuvers.

Cont. reading: Why North Korea Needs Nukes - And How To End That

Posted by b at 09:09 AM | Comments (246)

April 13, 2017

Big Bangs Can Not End The War On Afghanistan - Admitting Defeat Will

5667 days after the beginning of the war between the mightiest military of the world and local Afghan farmers, Pentagon reporters were excited to report:

Lara Seligman‏ @laraseligman

BREAKING: US drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan - GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast

4:28 PM - 13 Apr 2017

The U.S. generals demand, as they always do, more troops to "break the stalemate". But there is no stalemate. The Afghan farmers are winning. The Taliban control more areas now than they ever controlled since 2002.

Dropping 22,000 lbs of high explosives on some shack will not change that trend.


GBU-43 prototype via Wikipedia

(Though it will drown the news that the U.S. military just bombed and killed 18 of its Kurdish proxy forces in Syria.)

So what can the U.S. do in Afghanistan but blaming Russia and Iran on dubious grounds. Those countries -like China and other nearby countries- see the obviously coming U.S. retreat and talk with the Taliban to prepare for it.

The U.S. will have to and will leave and acknowledge that it joins the long lists of empires which tried to conquer Afghanistan and were defeated.

Posted by b at 01:29 PM | Comments (144)

April 12, 2017

The White House "Intelligence Assessment" Is No-Such-Thing - It Shows Support for Al-Qaeda

UPDATED at the end of the post

The Trump White House published three and a half pages of accusations against the governments of Syria and Russia. These are simple white pages with no header or footer, no date, no classification or declassification marks, no issuing agency and no signatures. It is indiscernible who has written them.

U.S. media call this a Declassified U.S. Report on Chemical Weapons Attack. It is no such thing.

It starts with "The United States is confident that the Syrian government conducted a chemical weapon attack, ..."

The U.S. (who exactly is that?) "is confident", it does not "know", it does not have "proof" - it is just "confident".

The whole paper contains only seven paragraphs that are allegedly a "Summary of the U.S. intelligence community assessment" on the issue. The seven paragraphs are followed by eight(!) paragraphs that try to refute the Russian and Syrian statements on the issue. Some political fluff makes up the sorry rest.

That "intelligence community assessment" chapter title is likely already a false claim. Even a fast tracked, preliminary National Intelligence Assessment, for which all seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies must be heard, takes at least two to three weeks to create. A "long track" full assessment takes two month or more. These are official documents issued by the Director of National Intelligence. The summary assessment the White House releases has no such heritage. It is likely a well massaged fast write up of some flunky in the National Security Council. The release was backgrounded by dubious statements of an anonymous "Senior Administration Officials" (not by "Intelligence Officials" as has been the case on other such issues.)

The claimed assessment starts with definitely wrong or at least very misleading point: "We assess that Damascus launched this chemical attack in response to an opposition offensive in Hama province that threatened key infrastructure."

The Hama offensive had failed two weeks ago. Since then the Syrian army has regained all areas the al-Qaeda "opposition" had captured during the first few days. (Al-Qaeda in Syria renamed itself several times and now calls itself "Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham".) Key infrastructure had never been seriously threatened by it. Over 2,000 al-Qaeda fighters were killed in the endeavor.

Peto Lucem, a well known and reliable media source for accurate maps of the war on Syria, posted on March 31, four days before the chemical incident:

Peto Lucem @PetoLucem

NEW MAP: "Rebel" frontline in #Hama is collapsing, #SAA reverses most #AlQaeda gains made in first days of their failed offensive. #Syria


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The attack in Hama had already failed days before the chemical incident in Khan Shaykhun happened. Khan Shaykhun is not on the front line. The incident and the failed al-Qaeda attack in Hama can not possibly be related. It makes no sense at all to launch a militarily useless incident in a place far away "in response" to a defeat of the enemy elsewhere - this in a moment where the global political and military situation had turned in favor of the Syrian government. (The Defense Intelligence Agency surely never signed off on such an illogical claim.)

The following paragraphs of the released paper reveal that the assessment is largely based on a "significant body" of "open source reporting" which "indicates" this or that. This means that the White House relied on pictures and videos posted by people who are allowed to operate freely in the al-Qaeda ruled Khan Shaykhun. (Khan Shaikhun had been in the hands of an Islamic State associated group Liwa Al-Aqsa until mid February. The group moved out after fighting al-Qaeda and after slaughtering some 150 of its fighters. Al-Qaeda since moved in and now rules the town and surrounding areas.)

Several of the released video were introduced and commented by Dr. Shajul Islam who has been removed from the British medical registry and had been indicted in the UK for his role in kidnapping "western" journalists in Syria. He fled back to Syria. One of the journalists kidnapped with the help of Dr. Shajul Islam, James Foley, was later murdered on camera by the Islamic State.  The videos the "doctor" distributed of "rescue" of casualties of the chemical incidents were not of real emergencies but staged. Under who's conditions and directions where the many other pictures and videos taken and published? Why are no female children or young women among the emergency patients and casualties? Why is there no picture or video of where the people were hit by gas and were found? All videos are from "aid stations", none from "the wild".

Cont. reading: The White House "Intelligence Assessment" Is No-Such-Thing - It Shows Support for Al-Qaeda

Posted by b at 10:06 AM | Comments (183)

April 11, 2017

Is There A New U.S. Syria Policy? Is There One At All?

What does the U.S. administration want with regards to Syria?

The elements were clear just a few days ago. The U.S. would split off the east and set up a Kurdish enclave which it would then occupy with the help of proxy forces. It would use the leverage to push for political regime change in western Syria. Israel would occupy another piece of the Golan.

While that looked somewhat favorable for the U.S. in the short term it was bad long term strategy. U.S. forces in the east would be surrounded by hostiles, cut off from the sea and under permanent guerilla attack from various opposing forces. But it looked at least like a viable short term way forward.

The new strategy, which may not be one at all, and the new U.S. commitment is all over the place:

As various officials have described it, the United States will intervene only when chemical weapons are used — or any time innocents are killed. It will push for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria — or pursue that only after defeating the Islamic State. America’s national interest in Syria is to fight terrorism. Or to ease the humanitarian crisis there. Or to restore stability.

I don't get it. The cacophony of the last days does not make any sense. There is no viable endgame I see here that would be advantageous for Trump or general U.S. borg policy - neither internationally nor domestically - neither short term nor long term. Trump is now losing the "America First" followers he will need to win another election.

Due to the anti-Russian panic Trump surrendered to the neocons. Suddenly the borg is lauding him for a senseless escalation. The neocons want chaos but chaos is not a plan. There seems to be no plan that will help any cause.

There is no chance that the U.S. can split Syria from its allies, Hizbullah, Iran and Russia. While Russia is under pressure in Kaliningrad, Crimea and Syria it has lived through way worse situation and these have always increased its determination. I don't see how or why it would fold now.

Trump had an intelligent strategy when he won against Clinton. He deftly use his advantages. There are few advantages that he has and can play with regards to Middle East policy. Use pure military force? That's not a strategy, just tactical game play. Though the generals who run his cabinet may not be capable to see that. If he destroys Syrian then Lebanon and Jordan will also fall to radicals. Other countries will follow. Iraq would again throw out all U.S. troops. Would the U.S., or Israel, want that? Why?

Whatever one might say about Trump, he is not stupid. He must have some kind of plan.

Help me out. What are his thoughts behind this. Or are there really none at all.

Posted by b at 06:54 AM | Comments (274)

April 10, 2017

Open Thread 2017-14

News & views ...

Posted by b at 04:32 AM | Comments (140)

April 08, 2017

The Khan Sheikoun Show - A New President Proudly Presented By Trump Productions

The "chemical attack" at Khan Sheikoun was faked and a show; though a number of people were killed or hurt during its production.

This video for example, of doctors and patients in an emergence room was pure theater, taken over a longer time period. The main presenter was a well-known criminal Takfiri but with links to the British secret service. The whole show was perfected, by specialists one would think, to fit for U.S. TV screens. 

There were no scenes, zero in all the coverage, that showed casualties in places where they were surprised by gas and died. No basement was searched, no place of work or living was shown - only rescue centers. The male "victims" were clean shaven, despite living in al-Qaeda land. They even had two blond "Syrian" kids in there (vid) to convince the racist constituency that "revenge" was needed and just.  A cut right out of Wag The Dog (vid). It is now racist to object to the war!

Dilbert creator Scott Adams, one of the few who understands Trump's persuasion style and predicted his win, remarks:

It is almost as if someone designed this “tragedy” to be camera-ready for President Trump’s consumption. It pushed every one of his buttons. Hard. And right when things in Syria were heading in a positive direction.
...
I’m going to call bullshit on the gas attack. It’s too “on-the-nose,” as Hollywood script-writers sometimes say, meaning a little too perfect to be natural. This has the look of a manufactured event.
...
So how does a Master Persuader respond to a fake war crime?

He does it with a fake response, if he’s smart.

The response by the U.S. was not completely fake but as small as it could be. The base was warned and had been evacuated. All movable and valuable stuff had been taken away. The attack was even smaller than planned. The Russian Defense Ministry says only 23 out of 59 cruise missiles hit the base. The others were shot down by air defense or diverted by the famous Russian Electronic Counter Measures. The Pentagon insists that all 59 hit. But the pictures and video from the base only show damage to 11 aircraft shelters. Additionally one radar, one missile launcher and a fuel depot were hit. That effect is too small for 59 impacts. The base was in use again 12 hours after the strike. The attack on it was not really serious.

Adams makes it look as if Trump did not sign off on the whole stunt before it happened. As if it was made for Trump’s consumption. Why does he think so? Does he believe the CIA bureaucrats would not ask for a direct order and presidential cover before launching such a risky operation?

The pictures and scenes were not constructed for Trump's consumption. They were constructed by Trump for consumption by the "western" public.  Never forget that Trump is also a successful professional TV presenter who knows how to act in front of cameras. The plot followed Trump's persuasion style. The same style he used during the campaign and that let him win. Trump had several reasons to create such an incident. It was perfectly timed for the visit of the Chinese President Xi. This was a stunt to Trump's liking. It was his production. The blond children were there to allowed for his "Beautiful babies were cruelly murdered ..." punch line. Trump proudly produced and presented to you: "Trump the NEW President".

The whole show was designed to let Trump look strong and presidential and to get rid of the "Russia Gate" nonsense the neocons ran against him. The prospect of stopping those attacks was an offer he could not refuse. Here a tweet of mine sent on the evening before the attack was launched:

Moon of Alabama‏ @MoonofA

Prediction:
If Trump now commits to war on Syria the anti-Trump "Russia spies" campaign will immediately stop.
Ransom paid, hostage released
8:23 PM - 6 Apr 2017

Those who once warned that Trump would launch a new world war now laud him for nearly doing so:

Cont. reading: The Khan Sheikoun Show - A New President Proudly Presented By Trump Productions

Posted by b at 12:35 PM | Comments (288)

April 07, 2017

Syria: New U.S. Air Support On Request Scheme For Al-Qaeda

On this day one hundred years ago the U.S. joined World War I. Last night the U.S. attacked a Syrian government airport in an openly hostile and intentional manner. The strike established a mechanism by which al-Qaeda can "request" U.S. airstrikes on Syrian government targets. It severely damaged the main support base for Syria's fight against the Islamic State in eastern Syria. The event will possibly lead to a much larger war.

On April 4 Syrian airplanes hit an al-Qaeda headquarter in Khan Sheikoun, Idleb governate. Idleb governate is under al-Qaeda control. After the air strike some chemical agent was released. The symptoms shown in videos from local aid stations point to a nerve-agent. The release probably killed between 50 and 90 people. It is unknown how the release happened.

It is unlikely that the Syrian government did this:

  • In 2013 the Syrian government had given up all its chemical weapons. UN inspectors verified this.
  • The target was militarily and strategically insignificant.
  • There was no immediate pressure on the Syrian military.
  • The international political atmosphere had recently turned positive for Syria.

Even if Syria had stashed away some last-resort weapon this would have been the totally wrong moment and totally wrong target for using it. Over the last six year of war the Syrian government army had followed a political and militarily logical path. It acted consistently. It did not act irrational. It is highly unlikely that it would have now take such an illogical step.

The chemical used, either Sarin or Soman, was not in a clean form. Multiple witnesses reported of a "rotten smell" and greenish color. While the color would point to a mixture with Chlorine the intense smell of Chlorine is easily identifiable, covers up most other odors and would have been recognized by witnesses. Both Sarin and Soman are in pure form colorless, tasteless and odorless. The Syrian government once produced nerve agents on a professional, large scale base. Amateurishly produced nerve-gases are not pure and can smell (example: Tokyo subway incident 1995). It is unlikely that the Syrian government experts would produce a "rotten smelling", dirty, low quality stuff in an unprofessional and dangerous process.

The nerve agents in Khan Sheikoun, should they be confirmed, came either from stashed ammunition at the place attacked by the Syrian government or it was willfully released by the local ruling terrorist groups -al-Qaeda and Ahrar al-Sham- after the strike to implicate the Syrian government. The relatively low casualty numbers of mostly civilians point to the second variant.

Several reports over the years confirm that Al-Qaeda in Syria has the precursors and capabilities to produce and use Sarin as well as other chemical agents. This would not be their first use of such weapons. Al-Qaeda was under imminent pressure. It was losing the war. It is therefor highly likely that this was an intentional release by al-Qaeda to create public pressure on the Syrian government.

For a release incident of powerful chemical weapons the casualty numbers were low, lower than the casualty numbers of recent conventional U.S. air strikes in Syria and Iraq. Despite that fact a huge international media attack wave, seemingly prepared in advance, against the Syrian government was released. No evidence was presented that the incident was caused by the Syrian government. The only pictures and witness reports from the ground came from or through elements, like the White Helmets, who are known to by embedded with al-Qaeda and ISIS (video) and are acting as their propaganda arm.

Last night U.S. president Trump "responded" to the incident by ordering the launch of 59 cruise missiles on the Syrian military airport Al Syairat (vid). The cruise missiles were launched from sea in a volley designed to overwhelm air defenses. According to the Syrian and Russian military only 23 cruise missiles reached the airport. The others were shut down or failed. Six Syrian soldiers were Killed, nine civilians in a nearby village were killed or wounded and nine Syrian jets were destroyed. The airport infrastructure was severely damaged. The Syrian and Russian governments had been warned before the strikes hit and evacuated most men and critical equipment. (Was the warning part of a deal?) The air attack coincided with an Islamic State ground attack east of the airport.

Cont. reading: Syria: New U.S. Air Support On Request Scheme For Al-Qaeda

Posted by b at 04:22 AM | Comments (346)

April 06, 2017

Israel Just Received A HUGE Gift From Russia. What Is Its Side Of The Deal?

Russia just published a quite sensational statement on Israel and Palestine. It recognizes, as before, East-Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine. But Russia now also recognizes, under certain condition, West-Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

This statement will make quite a wave and it has to be seen in the wider context of the war on Syria. Here is the original statement in Russian on the Foreign Ministry site and the auto-translation (excerpt):

Moscow continues to consider the formula for negotiating a two-state settlement of an optimal and friendly to us Palestinian and Israeli people, as well as to the interests of all countries in the region and the world community as a whole.

We reaffirm our commitment to the UN resolutions on the principles of settlement, including the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we consider it necessary to say that in this context we regard West Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

Specific parameters for addressing the full range of issues of the final status of the Palestinian territories, including the Jerusalem problem, should be agreed upon in direct negotiations between the parties.

The part marked by me in bold is new. Older statements of Russia never included such a recognition. It is bound to conditions ("in this context") so there is no free lunch for the Zionists. But it is still a huge achievement for Netanyahoo.

For a wider context of the new Russian position we have to look at the conflict in Syria. There the pressure on President Trump to launch a war on Syria's government (and, make no mistake, thereby also on Hizbullah, Russia and Iran) is increasing. The probably staged chemical incident yesterday was the starting point for an intense pro-war campaign.

Yesterday the Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman accused Syria:

Lieberman told Yedioth Ahronoth that Syrian planes carried out the two chemical attacks, which were “directly ordered and planned by Syrian President Bashar Assad.” He stressed he was “100 percent certain.” The defense minister said he did not know if Russia was involved in the attack.

Russia and Syria have denied that either of them used any chemical ammunition. They say that the Syrian air force bombed an al-Qaeda ammunition depot which, unknown to them, may have included chemical weapons.

Today the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahoo called the Russian President and part of that call was a serious rebuke from Putin:

Mr Putin and Mr Netanyahu exchanged views on the incident involving chemical weapons on April 4 in the Syrian province of Idlib. Mr Putin underscored, in particular, that it is unacceptable to make groundless accusations against any party until a thorough and objective international investigation has been conducted.

But also part of that call, though not mentioned in the official note, must have been some agreement that led to the release of the statement above by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

A deal must have been made. A give and take and the West-Jerusalem release is part of the payment or reward. It is a HUGE price to win for Israel. It is against the long held international consensus which only considers Tel Aviv to be Israel's capital. Russia's concession gives cover for President Trump to make a similar announcement without messing up U.S. relations with Arab states or anyone else.

We can only speculate on the Israeli side of the deal, but there must be something Netanyahoo committed to. Russia would not offer this new position for nothing.

My speculation:

The mighty Zionist lobby in the U.S. (AIPAC & Co) is pushing for an immediate war on Syria. (It did so in 2013 but Obama called the war off at that time after the British parliament and later Congress rejected it.)

Netanyahoo could let it known that he prefers no war on Syria. The Zionist lobby in the U.S. would then shut up, pressure on Trump would be much relieved, a new war on Syria could be avoided.

In 2013 Putin arranged for a deal to destroy Syria's chemical arsenal. The elimination of Syria's strategic weapons was a huge gift to Israel. It also allowed Obama to keep face and keep away from war despite all pressure.

Now Putin is making another huge offer. Will Israel take this gift? Will Netanyahoo call off its AIPAC dogs of war?

The offer is not Russia's last political resort with regard to Israel.

A million Israelis are of Russian heritage. They emigrated to Israel in the 1980s and 90s. They are mostly not really Jews but vote conservative. They also admire and cherish Putin. That is one reason why no Israeli politician, especially Netanyahoo, can afford a big political conflict with Russia.

Putin's ultimate threat to Netanyahoo is to influence the Russian voters in Israel and to make them vote against him. It is a personal nuke under Netanyahoo's seat.

But Putin does not like to issue threats. He offers and makes deals. So one wonders what the real deal behind the above acknowledgement of West-Jerusalem is. Is my speculation correct or are their better explanations?

Posted by b at 03:13 PM | Comments (180)

April 05, 2017

WMDs In The UNSC - History Repeats Itself, First As Tragedy, Second As Farce

Pic: April 5 2017 - U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley during an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, on Wednesday strongly condemned the Syrian government in the wake of an alleged chemical weapons attack perpetrated on its own civilians this week. "When the UN consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action," Haley said. She added that if the UN doesn't take collective action, "we may."

Posted by b at 01:29 PM | Comments (161)

Ignoring The People - Where The Left Of The Aisle Side Fails

Since the election the U.S. Democrats have been outraged over Trump and obsessed by "Putin did it" conspiracy theories. What they did not do was to assess why the Clinton campaign failed, why the party has lost seats all over the country over the last eight years and why the formerly core Democratic constituency voted for Trump.

The reason for that are straightforward and simple. Trump promised jobs, less globalization, less war and less obsession with social matters of marginal interest. Stuff that workers outside of the coastal cities like. The Clinton campaign was mealy mouthed on policies except for some special peoples' "right" of using the other genders toilet facilities. Her campaign was solely built on bashing Trump and it failed.

This is not a U.S. specific situation. A similar situation has evolved in Europe where the former social-democratic parties have moved away from fighting for employment, better wages and working class issues to argue for "liberal" social or international stuff like migration. These are only of marginal interest to their former core voters if not outright against their interests. Meanwhile the political right is promising to do what the formerly left voters really like. In result the Social-Democrats in Germany have dropped from once 50% to now 30%. The Socialists in France are practically dead. Labour in Britain has currently no chance to come back to power. It is the same all over the continent.

U.S. Democratic Party operatives out in the country understand what happened. They are desperate. The party apparatus in Washington DC still does not get it. Here is the first piece I have seen in the main stream media that gets to these important points: Democrats are still ignoring the people who could have helped them defeat Trump, Ohio party leaders say:

One by one, members of the Mahoning County Democratic Party poured out their frustrations: Just months after the presidential election, they felt folks like them were being forgotten — again. The party’s comeback strategy was being steered by protesters, consultants and elitists from New York and California who have no idea what voters in middle America care about.

But worst of all, they said, the party hadn’t learned from what they saw as the biggest message from November’s election: Democrats have fallen completely out of touch with America’s blue-collar voters.

The piece includes some choice quotes:

Since the election, Democrats have been swallowed up in an unending cycle of outrage and issues that have little to do with the nation’s working class, they said, such as women’s marches, fighting Trump’s refugee ban and advocating for transgender bathroom rights.
...
“Every time Trump so much as sneezes, we as a party are setting our hair on fire and running around like it’s the end of the world,” Betras said as the dinner wound down. “Most people around here don’t care. They are living paycheck to paycheck, just trying to hold on. After everything that’s happened, if we as a party still aren’t speaking to them, then we are never getting them back.”
...
“What Trump slapped onto his plate last election was a big juicy steak. Real or not — that’s what it looked like to the hungry working voter,” Betras said. “What the elitists in our Democratic Party did with their side issues was say, ‘Look at all this broccoli we have for you. Sure, there’s some meat pieces mixed in, too, but look at the broccoli.’”

The demagogic right wins elections because it at least speaks about the real stuff while the party leaders on the "left" ignore the core issues of their (former) constituency. When the right wins it will throw some small pieces of meat to its working class voters. Those then will be happy because finally their existence has been acknowledged again. That is naturally more important to them than the long term damage the rule of the right will cause for all of us.

Posted by b at 01:18 PM | Comments (41)

April 04, 2017

Various Issues

1. The anti-Russian mania and the Putin derangement syndrome in the U.S. and other "western" countries has left the realm of reasonability. It is of no use to argue over it. What is the endgame of the people who plant and propagate this nonsense?

2. Al-Qaeda in Syria and its subordinate "moderate rebels" are being defeated in their last big attack on Hama governate. The Russian defense ministry said that more than 2,000 Jihadis had been killed during the failed attack. Another attack on Latakia was stopped cold by massive Russian air strikes on the staging areas. Al-Qaeda's back yard in Idleb is under constant air interdiction.

The usual response when under such pressure are incidents of "chemical attacks" "on civilians". Such is claimed today in Khan Sheikhoun. The video footage, taken (when?) in a White Helmets base, shows "rescuers" spraying water on people who are claimed to have been effected by Sarin. If this were a real chemical incident involving Sarin or similar stuff these unprotected, unprofessional "rescuers" would be heavily effected if not dead.

Conveniently this incident also happens just two days before another international conference on Syria. The heavy media attention is likely the starting shot of a new campaign of CIA support for al-Qaeda in Idleb and a second leg of Turkey's invasion of Syria.

3. Trump had promised to change or eliminate "Obamacare". He let the Republican party under Ryan come up with a plan. That plan was crazy, disliked by the people and Trump rejected to take responsibility for it. Ryan was left hanging when the plan died in Congress.

Trump also promised to eliminate ISIS. He let the U.S. military come up with a plan. That plan is to bomb Mosul and Raqqa to smithereens and to kill everyone ISIS. The Pentagon has no viable plan for the time thereafter. Who will rule (and pay for) the destroyed Raqqa when the campaign is over? Who will have responsibility for the larger consequences? If the Kurds get it, the Arabs will rebel. If the Turks get it, the Kurds will fight them. If some (former ISIS) Arabs get it, Syria, Russia, Iran and Iraq and the Kurds will fight them and the U.S. military will have to protect them. The Pentagon has no answer to that problem. Trump will let the generals hang just as he let Ryan hang. They will have to take the responsibility. Don't they smell the trap?

Posted by b at 07:33 AM | Comments (114)

April 02, 2017

Iraqi WMDs Anyone? Washington Post Makes Unfounded Claims Of Iranian Supplies To Insurgencies

The Washington Post falls back into its 2005 mode of blaming Iran for the capabilities of a local insurgency. This time it is not Iraq where Iran is allegedly providing to insurgents, but Bahrain.

Old and debunked claims are hauled up and propaganda from the U.S. proxy Sunni dictatorship is cited as "evidence". It is a top-right front-page story in the Sunday edition and thereby "important". It is also fake news.

The headline: U.S. increasingly sees Iran’s hand in the arming of Bahraini militants.The core:

The report, a copy of which was shown to The Washington Post, partly explains the growing unease among some Western intelligence officials over tiny Bahrain, a stalwart U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf and home to the Navy’s Fifth Fleet. Six years after the start of a peaceful Shiite protest movement against the country’s Sunni-led government, U.S. and European analysts now see an increasingly grave threat emerging on the margins of the uprising: heavily armed militant cells supplied and funded, officials say, by Iran.

The authors insert caveats:

While Bahraini officials frequently accuse Tehran of inciting violence, the allegations often have been discounted as exaggerations by a monarchy that routinely cites terrorism as a justification for cracking down on Shiite activists.

But after noting that Bahraini authorities notoriously lie the authors regurgitate approvingly the claims of exactly those authorities:

... the country’s investigators said in a confidential technical assessment ... a copy of which was shown to The Washington Post ...

That is supported, the authors say, by:

... interviews with current and former intelligence officials ...

Surly, "current and former intelligence officials" are paragons of truth and veracity and whatever they claim MUST be true.

At issue is the detection of one basement workshop in Bahrain where someone is using "$20,000 lathes and hydraulic presses" to produce shaped charges and also stored a pile of C4 explosives.

A $20,000 lathe is at the lower end of low-quality professional tooling. Hydraulic presses can be made from car jacks. How to make hollow charges and explosive formed penetrators (EFPs) is described in the CIA's Explosives for Sabotage Manual which the U.S. translated and distributed for decades in Afghanistan and elsewhere. C4 explosives of various origins, including from Iran, are available on black weapon markets throughout west-Asia.

Source: CIA Handbook

Nothing of the above points to the conclusion that these are "cells supplied and funded .. by Iran". The only connection to Iran the Bahrani police found and which is noted in the piece is:

One of the six caches “involved C-4 in its original Iranian military packaging,” the report said.

The piece does not note where the C4 in the other five caches came from. A detailed chemical analysis will be able to find the "signatures" of the chemical production facilities. If only one of six explosive caches comes from an Iranian manufacturer the problem Bahrain has on hand with the C4 is hardly of Iranian origin. So why are the manufacturing origins of the other five caches of explosives not mentioned at all? Did those caches come from the U.S. or from Saudi factories?

But the problems with the piece do not end there.

After noting how unreliable Bahrain official claims are, it discussed at length such Bahraini claims.

After describing the cheap equipment used to make shaped charges in Bahrain it goes on to explain how Iran, and only Iran, gives those to insurgencies. It quotes some guy from the Zionist propaganda shop Washington Institute who:

saw echoes in Bahrain of Iran’s practice of supplying tank-crushing EFPs to Iraqi Shiite militias, which used the devices in an effort to create no-go zones around Shiite strongholds.

Iran did not and does not supply EFPs to Iraqi insurgents. The Iraqis made those themselves. That was documented here and elsewhere even ten years ago:

For quite a while this story has been debunked by reports about EFP manufacturing in Iraq. These were substantiated, while the "Iran provides EFPs" meme was never proven by any evidence.

There were pieces in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and by Reuters. Doubts about the Iran origin of EFPs have also been raised in the New York Times. NBC news had U.S. officials at least partly walking back their claims. The Columbia Journalism Review, Inter Press Service and Newshogger Cernig ran good summary stories including many sources. We also discussed the 'evidence' here.

The WaPo story, though on today's Sunday paper's frontpage, has a (web-)dateline of April 1. That is probably the only reliable claim it carries.

There is no evidence that Iran provides for a Shia insurgency in Shia majority-Sunni ruled Bahrain just as there is no evidence that it supplies Zaidi fighters in Yemen who fight Al-Qaeda and its Saudi sponsors.

But there is by now a steady stream of Saudi and U.S. propaganda that makes such claims. These claims sound awfully similar to the claims made before the war on Iraq of (non-existing) Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. To find such again on page one of the Sunday edition of a major newspaper is more than disturbing.

Posted by b at 10:40 AM | Comments (77)

March 31, 2017

Syria - Trump Administration Will Continue Obama Policy

There is a serious confusion about statements made yesterday by the Trump administration. It sets the fight against ISIS as the top priority and no longer demands an immediate leaving of Bashar Assad as the Syrian president. Reports try to sell this as a new position. But it is not new at all.

The U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley announced a "change of priorities":

"You pick and choose your battles and when we're looking at this, it's about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out," U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told a small group of reporters.

Secretary of State Tillerson confirmed that position:

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking in Ankara on Thursday, said Assad's longer-term status "will be decided by the Syrian people."

Southfront headlines the Haley talk as ‘Assad Must Not Go’. The International Business Times wrote about those statements:

The United States has announced a shift in its diplomatic policy on Syria and is no longer insisting that its president Bashar al-Assad be removed as the head of the war-torn country.

In a clear departure from the Obama administration's stance on Assad, and against EU policy, the US is now moving its focus to its battle with Isis.

But the Trump administration statements are not new at all. The "announced" positions were established under Obama:

President Barack Obama spent a significant portion of his final State of the Union speech discussing the fight against the terrorist group ISIS.
...
Obama said that fighting ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh) and other terrorists is the top priority of his administration.

Also in January 2016 then Secretary of State Kerry used a similar wording as Tillerson used now:

"It's up to the Syrians to decide what happens to Assad," Kerry said. "They are the negotiators and they will decide the future.""It's up to the Syrians to decide what happens to Assad," Kerry said. "They are the negotiators and they will decide the future."

There is no change of policy. The top priority has been and will be for a while the fight against ISIS. The U.S. will use this to occupy the eastern parts of Syria. When ISIS is suppressed enough to no longer be an immediate issue the removal of Assad will again become a top priority.

That Assad's position will be "decided by the Syrian people" is just obfuscating as long as it is not said WHICH Syrian people are HOW to decide over it.

The War On Syria will go on until the U.S. really changes its positions and until the Wahhabi oil sheiks stop their financing of their various Takfiri mercenaries - be they ISIS, al-Qaeda or whatever name they want to apply.

Posted by b at 01:10 PM | Comments (177)

March 30, 2017

Open Thread 2017-13

News & views ...

Posted by b at 02:13 PM | Comments (138)

March 29, 2017

Trump Is a . . . Agent

Everyone agrees that Trump is an agent. But who's agent is he? Thousands of words have been spilled discussing the issue. The opinions differ:

The question seems to be difficult. Luckily we have have the paper of record and its eminent next-six-months columnist Thomas Friedman who finally provides the clear and banal answer:

Trump Is a Chinese Agent

I though you would like to know that ... it is preposterous nonsense. But what else could one expect from Friedman.

More seriously. My impression is that there is only one person for whom Donald Trump is willing to act as an agent. That person is Donald Trump.

So the person Trump works for is not very knowledgeable, not very smart and not very likeable.

I would have been nice if the U.S. electorate had had a chance to vote for a better one. But that was - unfortunately - not the case.  The result has to be accepted. Fighting it is useless. The war on issues has begun.

Could someone go and tell the Democrats?

Posted by b at 01:22 PM | Comments (109)

March 28, 2017

Democrats: "Russia Ate Our Homework"

TRUMP increases sanctions on Russia.

DEMOCRATS: "Putin installed this president! Trump is illegitimate!"

TRUMP expands wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria

DEMOCRATS: "Russia is out to get us!"

TRUMP dismantles environmental regulations.

DEMOCRATS: "White House distracts from Russia investigation!"

TRUMP kills worker protection, lowers billionaire taxes.

DEMOCRATS: "Putin's interference cost us the election!"

TRUMP launches nuclear war with North Korea.

DEMOCRATS: "Russia ate our homework!"

Posted by b at 01:15 PM | Comments (99)

March 27, 2017

U.S. To Escalate Its Two Years War On Starving Yemen


bigger source drone video

The picture shows yesterday's rally in Sanaa,Yemen where up to 1 million people were condemning the war Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the U.S. have been waging on them for two years.

Nether the New York Times nor the Washington Post reported of the million strong rally. Both though reported widely of a 8,000 strong demonstration in Moscow led by the ultra-nationalist anti-semitic racist Alexey Navalny (vid). Navalny, who polls less than 1% in Russia, is their great and groundless hope to replace the Russian President Putin.

The war on Yemen was launched to show the manliness of the Saudi princes. Well, that may not be the proclaimed reason but it is the only one that makes sense. The U.S. takes part in the war because ... well - no one knows:

The morning after that NSC news release was posted on the White House webpage two years ago, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin, commander of the U.S. Central Command, was asked about the objectives of the U.S. support. His stunning reply remains the most accurate characterization from a U.S. official: “I don’t currently know the specific goals and objectives of the Saudi campaign, and I would have to know that to be able to assess the likelihood of success.” Other than dropping weapons with an unconscionable lack of discrimination and proportionality, it appears there are no clear goals and objectives to this day.

The Saudis claim their coalition has dropped 90,000 bombs during the two year war. That are 123 bombs per day. 5 each and every hour for no good reason. It hasn't helped them at all. The Houthi/Saleh alliance the Saudis fight claims (vid) to have destroyed 176 AFVs, 643 MRAPs, 147 MBTs, 12 Apaches, 20 drones, 4 aircraft. Additionally 109 tactical ballistic missiles were fired. Many of those (certainly exaggerated) Houth/Saleh successes happened on Saudi ground. Its southern desert does not protect Saudi Arabia, it opens it up to attacks.

The U.S. provides planing, intelligence, air-refueling and the ammunition for the Saudi bombing. Without U.S. support this war would not happen at all!

The United Nation claims that the death toll of the war is a mere 5,000. Others speak of 7-8,000. These numbers are laughable. One Saudi attack alone, a "double tap" on a Sanaa funeral hall, killed more than 800. The real death toll of the war is by now likely beyond 100,000. Especially in north-west Yemen, along the Saudi border, each and every Yemeni town and city has been bombed into ruins. Where are the people who once lived there?

The Saudis have simply threatened the UN that they will stop to provide any money for any of its relief efforts should it it make any noise. The UN folded.

Yemen is starving. Even before the war 90% of Yemen's staple food was imported. The Saudis have since bombed each and every food production facility, chicken farm and port. All larger bridges have been cut. There is no longer any way to import food into the capital Sanaa and the other areas the Saudis besiege. Too small official relief efforts are still running through the Hodeida port on the western coast. The port itself is controlled by the Houthi/Saudi alliance the Saudi want to eliminate. But the port is blockaded from the water side. The Saudis navy and airforce destroys all ship who try to enter or leave it. Some official relief ships are allowed to pass but they have difficulties to unload. All large cranes in the harbor have been destroyed by air attacks.

Still - to deliberately starve off all of the 17 million Yemenis who are "food insecure", i.e. extremely hungry and nearly starved, the port needs to be closed down for good. That is why the UAE and the Saudi plan to invade, conquer and occupy it. The fighting about the port will be a good excuse to close it down for good until no one in Sanaa is left alive.

The Pentagon is now requesting a free hand to help the Saudis to conquer and occupy the Hodeida harbor. Why the U.S. would do this? Well - the reason is at least as good as the one given two years ago:

[I]f decisions are not made soon, the senior administration official said, “we’re afraid the situation” in Yemen may escalate, “and our partners may take action regardless. And we won’t have visibility, and we won’t be in a position to understand what it does to our counterterrorism operations.”

So if the U.S. does not "help" (i.e. organizes) to close down the last source of food for the millions besieged by the Saudis then it may not be able to understand what that means.

Now there is a really good reason to put boots on the ground! "Unless we do it, we will not know the consequences and that is something we would want to know, right?"

Posted by b at 02:01 PM | Comments (69)

March 26, 2017

Gas From Israel And The Flynn Wiretapping - Behind The Deep-State Infighting Over The Trump Election

What is really behind the deep-state infighting over the U.S. elections and the "wire tapping" of the Trump campaign? Why was the CIA-Neocon axis vehemently lobbying against Trump? What foreign interests and what money is involved in this? Answers to these questions are now emerging.

The former director of the CIA under Clinton, James Woolsey, went to the Wall Street Journal and offered some information (likely some true and some false) on the retired General Flynn and the lobbying businesses he was involved in. Woolsey is an arch-neoconservative. He had worked on the transition team of Trump but got fired over "growing tensions over Trump’s vision for intelligence agencies." Flynn is the former National Security Advisor of Trump who later also got fired. Woolsey was a board member of Flynn's former lobbying company FIG.

Woolsey claims: In September 2016 he took part in a meeting between Flynn and high level Turkish officials, including the Turkish foreign minister and the energy minister who is the son-in-law of the Turkish president Erdogan. During the meeting, Woolsey claims, a brainstorming took place over how the Turkish cult leader Fethullah Gülen could -probably by illegal means- be removed from the U.S. and handed over to Turkey.

Gülen is accused by the Erdogan mafia of initiating a coup attempt against it. The U.S. claims officially that there is no evidence for such an accusation and that Gülen can therefore not be rendered to Turkey. Gülen is an old CIA asset that helped the U.S. deep state to control Turkey.  Erdogan divorced from the Gülen organization after it became useless for his neo-Ottoman project.

Here is the WSJ report on the Woolsey claims and a video clip with parts of his WSJ interview. Woolsey also went on CNN where he repeated his WSJ story.

Flynn was accused by the anti-Trump campaign to have worked for Russia. He had taken several $10,000 for speeches he gave in Moscow. He also, at times, had argued for better U.S. relations with Russia. But Flynn's pro-Russia stand was probably honest. (Or the bribes involved were just smaller than the ones paid by others.) The money he got on the speaker circus was rather small for a man in his position.

Flynn's real corruption was on another issue. After having been fired from the Trump administration, Flynn retroactively filed under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). His lobbying firm had a contract over $530,000 to work for a company near to the Turkish president Erdogan:

In its filing, Mr. Flynn’s firm said its work from August to November “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.” The filing said his firm’s fee, $530,000, wasn’t paid by the government but by Inovo BV, a Dutch firm owned by a Turkish businessman, Ekim Alptekin.

This lobbying, not the alleged Flynn-Putin relation, is the real scandal and part of the Trump/CIA/Clinton deep-state in-fighting.

The meeting Woolsey described was under the "Turkish" Flynn contract. The Turkish business man, and owner of Inovo, Ekim Alptekin is a member of the Erdogan gang. But hidden at the very end of the WSJ story is the real key to understand the shady network:

Inovo hired Mr. Flynn on behalf of an Israeli company seeking to export natural gas to Turkey, the filing said, and Mr. Alptekin wanted information on the U.S.-Turkey political climate to advise the gas company about its Turkish investments.

It was the Israeli gas company, not the Alptekin outlet, that drove the issue.

The Leviatan (and Tamar) gas fields in the Mediterranean along the Israeli coast are a huge energy and profit resource IF the gas from them can be exported to Europe. Several companies are involved in the exploration and all are looking for ways to connect the fields to the European gas network. There are (likely true) rumors that huge bribes have been payed in Israel, Jordan and elsewhere to win exploration contracts and to sell the gas. Negotiations between Israel and Turkey over the pipeline have been on and off. They depend on a positive climate towards Israel in the Turkish government which again depends on the often changing political position of the Erdogan gang.

The picture evolving here (lots of sleuthing and sources) is this:

An Israeli company (or whoever is behind it) wants a gas pipeline to Turkey. It hires Flynn and Alptekin to arrange a positive climate for the Leviathan pipeline within the Turkish government. It offers Flynn more than half a million for a little (4-month long) influence work. His job is to create a "friendly atmosphere" for the deal by using his influence in the U.S. to accommodate Erdogan. A major point that is expected from Flynn is to arrange the handover of Gülen, by whatever means, from the U.S. to Erdogan.

After accepting the (lobbying) bribe Flynn-the-whore suddenly changes his former anti-Turkish, pro-Russian, pro-Kurdish political position into a pro-Turkish, neutral-Russian and anti-Kurdish one. (His lobbying firm also makes some smaller payments related to the Clinton email-server scandal. This may be related to links between the Clinton family and the Gülen school empire.) He has a meeting with the Turkish government/Erdogan officials part of which is a discussion of a removal of Gülen to Turkey. He pens a pro Erdogan anti-Gülen op-ed which is published on the day of the election and he denigrates the Pentagon plan to work with the Kurds in Syria.

The NSA, CIA and the FBI are listening to Flynn's conversations with Turkish and Israeli interests. (For the old and long history of such "wiretapping" of Turkish and Israeli connections and various dirty and criminal deals they revealed read and ask Sibel Edmonds.)

The projects which Flynn is involved in, especially removing Gülen, are against the long term interests of the (neoconservative-driven) CIA. Selected tapes of his talks are transcribed and distributed within the anti-Trump campaign. This is the origin of the "wiretapping" of the Trump Tower the U.S. president lamented about. The stuff the CIA dug up about Flynn's dealing was and is used against Trump.

Woolsey is caught up in this as he also worked for Flynn's lobbying firm. (His neocon-pro-Zionist history suggests that he is the senior Israeli watchdog over Flynn in all this.) He is now engaged in damage control and is "coming clean" and selectively leaking his anti-Flynn stuff to exculpate himself. (There is probably also some new, better deal involved that will pay off from him.)

The Israeli-Turkish pipeline and the related deep-state fight are not the only issue involved in the campaign against Trump. There are also British interests and British intelligence involvement especially with the accusations against Russia of "hacking" of the DNC. If and how these fit in with above has not yet been revealed.

Posted by b at 07:06 AM | Comments (75)

March 24, 2017

Open Thread 2017-12

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:21 PM | Comments (249)

March 23, 2017

Syria Summary - The U.S. Move On Tabqa Will Complicate The Political Situation

Turkey is at a dead end in Syria. Erdogan's dream of going on to Raqqa and Deir Ezzor  or even Aleppo city has been blocked by an agreement between the U.S. and Russia. His proxy forces are stuck north-east of Aleppo city and have no way to go further south, east or west. They conquered a piece of rural land that gives Erdogan no negotiation leverage but potentially a lot of headaches. A small Russian contingent has moved into the Kurdish enclave in north-west Syria around Afrin blocking any serious Turkish move against that area.

Turkey and its paymasters in Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have lost the fight over Syria. Still tacitly backed by the U.S. they are currently trying a Hail-Mary pass to again achieve some negotiation power for the next round of Geneva talks. This is likely to again fail. Their proxy forces in the north west, including al-Qaeda, moved from the north towards the city of Hama (see map, red=Syrian government). Over the last days they captured 11 small villages which were only lightly defended. The Russian and Syrian airforce are now devastating them and a counter-attack by the Syrian army is prepared and will soon throw them back.


Source: Islamic World News - bigger

Coordinated with the Hama attack was an attempt to capture ground on the eastern periphery of Damascus and in the south around Deraa. The Damascus attack has run its cause. No ground was taken and held by the Takfiris and the counterattack against them is advancing. The attack in Deraa failed to break the Syrian army defense lines.

Cont. reading: Syria Summary - The U.S. Move On Tabqa Will Complicate The Political Situation

Posted by b at 02:34 PM | Comments (114)

March 22, 2017

Fool Me Once ... DNC Ally Crowdstrike Claimed Two Cases Of "Russian Hacking" - One At Least Was Fake

The cyber-security company Crowdstrike claimed that the "Russia" hacked the Democratic National Committee. It also claimed that "Russia" hacked artillery units of the Ukrainian army. The second claim has now be found to be completely baseless. That same is probably the case with its claims related to the DNC.

Sometime around May 2016 the Democratic National Committee lost control over its email archives. It claimed that its servers had been "hacked" by someone related to Russian interests. DNC emails were published by Wikileaks and provided that the DNC had worked during the primaries against its statutes and in favor of one presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. The DNC chair was forced to resign over the case.

The DNC had called in Crowdstrike, a company led by a one Dimitry Alperovich, a Senior Fellow of the NATO aligned "think tank" Atlantic Council. After a short investigation Crowdstrike claimed to found intruding software on the DNC servers that, it says, has been exclusively used by Russian intelligence services. From there followed claims that "Russia hacked the U.S. elections".

When the DNC went public with the Crowdstrike claims the FBI never requested access to the servers to determine if a crime had been committed and to detect the culprit. Access to the servers had been informally denied by the DNC. The FBI simply followed (pdf), without any own forensic investigation of its own, the conclusions Crowdstrike had made.

Imagine that some white guy claims that his house has been broken in and a large amount of money has been stolen. He hires a private investigators who says a window was broken and therefore the crime must have been committed by those "niggers" down the road. But others ask if the man hides the money himself, or if the man's son might have taken it. But the police does not investigate if a crime has actually happened. It does no forensics at the crime scene. It does not even check if a window has indeed been broken. It simply follows the conclusion of the private investigator and accuses the "niggers". This is what happened in the DNC case.

Month later and in a different case the same Crowdstrike investigators claimed (pdf) that the artillery units of the Ukrainian army had had "excessive combat losses" of up to 80% in their fight with Ukrainian separatists. Crowdstrike asserted that Russian intelligence hacked an application used by the Ukrainians to aim their guns. The hack, it was claimed, enabled well targeted counter-fire that then destroyed the Ukrainian guns.

The author of the application denied that any such hacking had taken place. His software was provided only directly from him to Ukrainian army units. Independent cyber-security researchers also doubted the claims.

Crowdstrike had based its numbers for "excessive losses" of Ukrainian artillery units on statistics collected by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). The IISS now says that its statistic do not provide what Crowdstrike claimed. There were no "excessive losses" of Ukrainian artillery.

VOA first contacted IISS in February to verify the alleged artillery losses. Officials there initially were unaware of the CrowdStrike assertions. After investigating, they determined that CrowdStrike misinterpreted their data and hadn’t reached out beforehand for comment or clarification.

In a statement to VOA, the institute flatly rejected the assertion of artillery combat losses.

It seems that the whole "Ukrainian artillery hack" claims by Crowdstrike was simply made up. There was no "hack" and the claimed damage from the "hack" did not occur at all. Crowdstrike evidently found a "crime" and "Russian hacking" where none had happened.

Cont. reading: Fool Me Once ... DNC Ally Crowdstrike Claimed Two Cases Of "Russian Hacking" - One At Least Was Fake

Posted by b at 09:59 AM | Comments (87)

March 21, 2017

Airlines Want Protectionism - U.S. Bans Laptops, Tablets On Competition's Flights

February 2017: CEOs of Delta, United and American Hope Trump Will Block Arab Competition

The big three U.S. airlines maintain that Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways — airlines backed by governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — are unfairly subsidized and that their expansion into the U.S. market represents unfair competition that should be blocked by regulators.

“The Gulf carriers have received over $50 billion in documented subsidies from their government owners since 2004,” the chief executives of the big three wrote in a recent letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “Mr. Secretary,” the letter continues, “we are confident that the Trump Administration shares our view on the importance of enforcing our Open Skies agreements, ensuring that U.S. airlines have a fair and equal opportunity to compete in the international market, and protecting American jobs.”

March 2017: US bans laptops, tablets on flights from Turkey and Arab world

Senior US officials told reporters that nine airlines from eight countries had been given 96 hours, beginning at 3:00 am (0700 GMT), to tell travelers to pack any device bigger than a smartphone in their checked luggage.

Laptops, tablets and portable game consoles are affected by the ban -- which only applies to direct flights to the United States from the blacklisted airports.

No US carriers are affected by the ban, but passengers on approximately 50 flights per day from some of the busiest hubs in Turkey and the Arab world will be obliged to follow the new emergency ruling.
...
The ban will hit flights operated by Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

The U.S. move is certainly not about security. What now hinders anyone to fly from Dubai to Paris and on to New York with a laptop and tablet in her carry on luggage? Why would that be more secure than a direct flight with Emirates Airline?  No. This is all about unwanted competition and an effort of the highly subsidized U.S. airlines to sell higher priced tickets with less service.

Flying from the Middle East to the U.S. one can now choose between a direct flight without any personal entertainment equipment, or take a flight with some additional stop on a (code-sharing) U.S. carrier. The second variant is of course more "secure".

A bit funny: The Brits immediately followed up with their own "security measures". But they banned different airports and airlines than the U.S. There are no new, additional "security measures" for flights to Britain from Kuwait, Qatar and Morocco. Instead Tunisia is on the British list. That of course does not make sense from a security standpoint. But it probably reflects the importance of certain investors for the City of London as well as the competitive situation of British Airways.

Posted by b at 02:17 PM | Comments (54)

March 20, 2017

The False Handshake Story Aims To Delegitimize Trump

I dislike Trump and his policies. I dislike Merkel and her policies. Both are my political enemies. But what I dislike even more are lying media which try to deceive for undeclared political aims.

A recent example:

The pieces linked above go on to speculate about personal animosities between Merkel and Trump and about diverging U.S. and European political directions.

While differences may exist between Trump and Merkel they have nothing to do with a handshake in an Oval Office photo op. Not mentioned in the above reports is that Merkel and Trump shook hands with each other several times and in cordial ways.

Here as Merkel arrives at the White House:


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And here at the end of the press conference after their talks:


bigger

So why the headlines above?

Cont. reading: The False Handshake Story Aims To Delegitimize Trump

Posted by b at 11:12 AM | Comments (99)

March 19, 2017

Red Scare Redux: "Russian Weapons Stocked Right Up At NATO's Border!"

A Washington Post news piece on the current NATO budget spat remarks:

Russia, for its part, keeps tanks and missiles stocked right up against the NATO border.

Now, that's truly threatening of Russia and DANGEROUS!

How did that come to be?


bigger

UPDATE:

Found some of the stocked up weapons ...

Cont. reading: Red Scare Redux: "Russian Weapons Stocked Right Up At NATO's Border!"

Posted by b at 11:22 AM | Comments (80)

March 17, 2017

Which "War Torn" Country? - U.S. Slaughter In Somalia, Yemen And Syria


bigger - original tweet

When I saw the above tweet this morning I wondered which "war torn" country those Somalis were fleeing from when they were murdered. The tweet doesn't say. Were they fleeing from the "war torn" Somalia? Or were the fleeing from "war torn" Yemen?

It is a sad world when has to ponder such.

It tuned out these people were fleeing from both wars:

Coast guard Mohammad Al Alay told Reuters the refugees, carrying official UNHCR documents, were on their way from Yemen to Sudan when they were attacked by an Apache helicopter near the Bab Al Mandeb strait.

An Apache attack helicopter shot up the refugees' boat. There are Saudi, United Emirati and U.S. Apache helicopters in or around Yemen. It is unknown which of them ordered and which executed the strike. These helicopters, their ammunition and the service for them are a favored U.S. export to belligerent dictatorships like Saudi Arabia.

The UN warns that 5 million people in Yemen are only weeks away from starving. The Saudis, the U.S. and the Emirates block all land routes, air ports and the coast of Yemen and no food supplies come through. This is an ongoing huge war crime and literally a genocide. But "western" media seem totally unimpressed. Few, if any, reports on the war on Yemen get published. Never have they so openly displayed their hypocrisy.

Somalia is falling back into an all-out civil war fueled by the decades old unwillingness of the U.S. to condone an independent local unity government. The Islamic Court Union, a unity government created by the Somalis in 2006, was the last working instance of a real Somali state. It had no Jihadist agenda and held down local warlords. It was destroyed by the Bush administration:

A UN cable from June 2006, containing notes of a meeting with senior State Department and US military officials from the Horn of Africa task force, indicates that the United States was aware of the ICU’s diversity, but would “not allow” it to rule Somalia. The United States, according to the notes, intended to “rally with Ethiopia if the ‘Jihadist’ took over.” The cable concluded, “Any Ethiopian action in Somalia would have Washington’s blessing.” Some within the US intelligence community called for dialogue or reconciliation, but their voices were drowned out by hawks determined to overthrow the ICU.

During the last 10 years an on-and-off war is waged in Somalia with the U.S. military interfering whenever peace seems to gain ground. Currently a new round of war is building up. Weapons are streaming into Somalia from Yemen, where the Houthi plunder them from their Saudi invaders:

Jonah Leff, a weapons tracing expert with conflict Armament Research, said many [Somali] pirates had turned to smuggling. They take boatloads of people [from Somalia] to Yemen and return with weapons, he said.

The wars on Somalia and Yemen are the consequences of unscrupulous and incompetent(?) U.S. foreign policy. (Cutting down the size of the U.S. State Department, as the Trump administration now plans to do, is probably the best thing one can do for world peace.)

The U.S. military should be cut down too. It is equally unscrupulous and incompetent.

Last night the U.S. military hit a mosque in Al-Jīnah in Aleppo governate in Syria. It first claimed that the strike, allegedly targeting a large meeting of al-Qaeda, was in Idleb governate. But it turned out to be miles away west of Aleppo. Locals said a mosque was hit, the roof crashed in and more than 40 people were killed during the regular prayer service. More than 120 were injured. The U.S. military said it did not hit the local mosque but a building on the other side of the small plaza.

The U.S. maps and intelligence were not up-to-date. A new, bigger mosque had been build some years ago opposite of the old mosque. The old mosque was indeed not hit. The new one was destroyed while some 200 people were in attendance. Eight hellfire missiles launched from two Reaper drones were fired at it and a 500lb bomb was then dropped on top to make sure that no one escaped alive. Al-Qaeda fighters were indeed "meeting" at that place - five times a day and together with the locals they have pressed by force to attend the Quran proscribed prayers.

Had the Russian or Syrian army committed the strike the "western" outcry would have been great. For days the media would have provide gruesome photos and stories. The U.S. ambassador at the UN would have spewed fire and brimstone. But this intelligence screw-up happened on the U.S. side. There will now be some mealymouthed explanations and an official military investigation that will find no fault and will have no consequences.

Amid this sorry incident it was amusing to see the propaganda entities the U.S. had created to blame the Syrian government turning against itself. The MI6 operated SOHR was the first to come out with a high death count. The al-Qaeda aligned, U.S./UK financed "White Helmets" rescuers made a quick photo session pretending to dig out the dead. The sectarian al-Qaeda video propagandist Bilal Abdul Kareem, which the New York Times recently portrait in a positive light, provided damning video and accusing comments. The amateur NATO researchers at Bellingcat published what they had gleaned from maps, photos and videos other people created. The NATO think tank, which defended al-Qaeda's invasion of Idleb, will shed crocodile tears.

Each new lie and obfuscation the U.S. Central Command in the Middle East put out throughout the day was immediately debunked by the horde of U.S. financed al-Qaeda propaganda supporters. This blowback from the "information operation" against Syria will likely have consequences for future U.S. operations.

In another operation last night the Israeli air force attacked Syrian forces near Palmyra which were operating against ISIS. The Israeli fighters were chased away when the Syrians fired air defense missiles. This was an Israeli attempt to stretch the "rules of operation" it had negotiated with the Russian military in Syria. The Russians, which control the Syrian air space, had allowed Israel to hit Hizbullah weapon transports on their way to Lebanon. Attacks on any force operating against Jihadis in Syria are taboo. The Russian government summoned the Israeli ambassador. Netanyahoo broke the rules. He will now have to bear the consequences.

Posted by b at 03:42 PM | Comments (134)

 
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