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February 28, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-017

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

1TVNewsAF @1TVNewsAF - 6:32 UTC · Feb 28, 2021
Sirajuddin Haqqani warns of never-seen-before fight if foreign troops don't exit Afghanistan by May.
"Today...we have the technology to use drones, we have our own missiles. This time if the Mujahideen resume fighting the enemies, it would be something they have never seen before."
Glenn Greenwald @ggreenwald - 15:03 UTC · Feb 24, 2021
It took only two years to go from disappearing Milo and Alex Jones to banning content said to "amplify narratives that undermine faith in NATO."
Imagine where the line will be two years from now.
Censorship is an intoxicating power that endlessly expands until it's smashed.

Other issues:

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 13:50 UTC | Comments (111)

February 27, 2021

Covid-19 - Surfing The Third Wave

The second wave of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has receded and the people have had enough of restrictions. There is immense pressure to end the lockdowns and many politicians will do as their voters wish. But there will be a third wave and it is likely to become larger than the second one. Below I try to explain why that is the case and what it means for our societies. My conclusions may sound alarmist, and I may be all wrong, but the scenario is neither impossible nor am I the only one who thinks it is likely.

The Spanish Flu came in three waves spread over 18 month. By summer 1919 most populations had gained some immunity against it. During the winter flu season of 1919 the new disease was no longer a public danger.

Deaths per thousand people during the Spanish Flu


Here is the similar curve for the United States during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The U.S. just finished what - in comparison to 1918/19 - is the second wave of the pandemic.

Source - bigger

The situation is similar in large parts of the world. The Covid-19 pandemic has just finished its second wave.

Cont. reading: Covid-19 - Surfing The Third Wave

Posted by b at 20:28 UTC | Comments (97)

February 26, 2021

After U.S. Attack In Syrian Iran Demonstrates Its Escalation Dominance

Last night the U.S. escalated the situation in Iraq by bombing Iraqi government security forces at the Iraqi-Syrian border station near Abu-Kamal/Al-Qaim. One Iraqi soldier, a Sunni, was killed. Other sources claim that as many as 22 were killed.

The Pentagon spinmasters and their stenographers in the media use Orwellian language to justify the crime. The official press release says:

U.S. Conducts Defensive Precision Strike

Feb. 25, 2021

(Attributable to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby)

“At President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria. These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel. Specifically, the strikes destroyed multiple facilities located at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups, including Kait’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kait’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS).

This proportionate military response was conducted together with diplomatic measures, including consultation with Coalition partners. The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and Coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.”

The last attack on U.S. units in Iraq happened on February 15 against a U.S. position in Erbil, Iraq. Some three small rockets were fired by an unknown group of provocateurs.

To call an attack with seven 500 pound bombs on a border station guarded by official Iraqi security forces against ISIS attacks hundreds of miles away from Erbil "defensive" and "in response" is of course ridiculous.

Kataeb Hizbullah al-Iraq (not related to Hizbullah in Lebanon) and KSS are under command of the Iraqi prime minister. They were founded with help from Iran in 2014 to fight against ISIS. Since 2018 they are regular Iraqi forces paid and equipped by the Iraqi government, not by Iran. This attack will escalate the situation in Iraq. More attacks against U.S. and other foreign units there are now assured.

Together with the deliberate steps to make a return to the nuclear deal with Iran more complicate this attack can be seen as a deliberate escalation against the 'resistance axis' of Iran, Syria, Hizbullah in Lebanon and their supporters.

The Biden administration has yet to learn the lesson the Trump learned when he tired to provoke Iran and its allies. It is the resistance that has escalation dominance in the Middle East. It can control the pace of further steps up the escalation ladder. It is willing to step up higher than the U.S. It knows how to use that ability.

Here is proof for that:

Cont. reading: After U.S. Attack In Syrian Iran Demonstrates Its Escalation Dominance

Posted by b at 15:57 UTC | Comments (229)

Open Thread 2021-016

News & views ...

Posted by b at 13:48 UTC | Comments (73)

February 25, 2021

U.S. Further Complicates Its Return To The Nuclear Deal With Iran

A week ago we found that Biden's slow walking of a U.S. return to the nuclear deal with Iran makes no sense if we presume that doing so is really his aim:

Why Is Biden Creating Himself An Iran Quagmire?

The Biden administration demands that Iran fully come back under the restrictions of the deal, to agree to an extension of some restriction under the deal and to agree to talks about its missile programs and its role in the Middle East. Only after that, says the Biden administration, would the U.S. remove some of its sanctions.

The demands are nonsense and have absolutely no chance of being fulfilled.

It is the U.S. that is in breach of the deal. Biden could simply reenter it by lifting the sanctions Trump imposed. Iran had promised that it would follow through by coming back into the technical limits of the deal. But instead of agreeing to that the Biden administration is trying to create a more complicated process by coordinating its negotiation positions with Saudi Arabia, Israel and other opponents of the deal: ...

Then came the announcement of a brigade strong deployment of NATO forces to Iraq with the obviously aim to put pressure on Iran:

It is likely that the U.S. sees the additional troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as a pressure point that can be used against Iran in the rather hopeless attempt to renegotiate the nuclear agreement with Iran into a larger surrender document. Iran will not surrender.

The NATO troops will become hostages of U.S. policies and may well take casualties.

Why the European NATO countries agreed to put themselves into this no-win situation is beyond me.

In between Iran reached an agreement with the IAEA which, under the nuclear deal, is tasked with inspecting Iran's nuclear program:

In response to the murder by Israel of Iran's top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh the conservative parliament passed a law that compels the moderate government under the Iranian President Rohani to further reduce its adherence to the JCPOA deal. As part of this the Iranian government will soon reduce the ability of the international inspectors from the IAEA to observe parts of its civilian nuclear program.

The Iranian parliament had instructed the government of President Rouhani to restrict the IAEA's activity. But Iran's President Rouhani wants to hold up good relations with the IAEA. He agreed on a compromise under which IAEA surveillance cameras, installed at various nuclear sites in Iran, will continue to work. The captured video and data will be archived for three months before it will be deleted:

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said Sunday that the two sides had reached the temporary "technical understanding" following his trip to Iran, which had recently signaled plans to scale back cooperation with the global nuclear watchdog.
The interim deal reached Sunday would alleviate the impact of Iran pulling out of the additional protocol, Grossi said. "What we agreed to is something that is viable, it's useful to bridge this gap that we are having now, salvages the situation now," he said.

If the U.S. returns to the deal within the next three months the IAEA will receive all the stored data. If no deal is reached the data will be deleted and the IAEA will lose insight to Iran's program. Rouhani was lambasted by conservative in the Iranian parliament for agreeing to this and for thereby giving the U.S. more time.

But neither words nor deeds by the Biden administration show a real effort to return to the deal. It presumably did not like the IAEA's effort to prolong the negotiation time frame before Iran takes stricter measures. Today it started efforts to use the IAEA to further sabotage the relation:

Cont. reading: U.S. Further Complicates Its Return To The Nuclear Deal With Iran

Posted by b at 19:06 UTC | Comments (105)

February 24, 2021

Censorship Gone Bonkers - 'Be A Good Citizen!'

Yesterday the censorship department at Twitter went bonkers.

Twitter Safety blogged: 

Disclosing networks of state-linked information operations

Today we are disclosing four networks of accounts to our archive of state-linked information operations; the only archive of its kind in the industry. The networks we are disclosing relate to independent, state-affiliated information operations that we have attributed to Armenia, Russia and a previously disclosed network from Iran.

Today we’re disclosing two separate networks that have Russian ties.

1. Our first investigation found and removed a network of 69 fake accounts that can be reliably tied to Russian state actors. A number of these accounts amplified narratives that were aligned with the Russian government, while another subset of the network focused on undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.

Be a good citizen!

Do not amplify narratives that are aligned with the Russian government.

Do not undermine faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.

Do not amplify narratives that are aligned with the Russian government.

Do not undermine faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.

Do not amplify narratives that are aligned with the Russian government.

Do not undermine faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.

Do not amplify narratives that are aligned with the Russian government.

Do not undermine faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.

Do not amplify narratives that are aligned with the Russian government.

Do not undermine faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.

Do not amplify narratives that are aligned with the Russian government.

Do not undermine faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.

Do not amplify narratives that are aligned with the Russian government.

Do not undermine faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.

Do not amplify narratives that are aligned with the Russian government.

Do not undermine faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.

Do not amplify narratives that are aligned with the Russian government.

Do not undermine faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.

Do not amplify narratives that are aligned with the Russian government.

Do not undermine faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.

Everyone got that now?

Also this:

Cont. reading: Censorship Gone Bonkers - 'Be A Good Citizen!'

Posted by b at 15:16 UTC | Comments (156)

February 23, 2021

Biden Commits To Forever War On Afghanistan

The forever war on Afghanistan will continue.

The U.S. and its NATO proxy force have spent nearly 20 years and a trillion dollars to "do something" in Afghanistan. What that something was to be was never clear. There were attempts to impose some kind of enlightened model of governance on the Afghan people. But anyone with knowledge of that country knew that this would never work.

Bribes were handed out left and right and Afghan warlords, many of whom hold government positions, enriched themselves by scamming the occupation forces. They naturally do not want that to end. There are also Afghans who do not want to live under the heel of corrupt warlords and ignorant occupation troops. They are called Taliban and get support from Pakistan and Arab countries which the U.S. calls 'allies'. The occupation forces tried to fight them but after nearly 20 years of wars the Taliban again rule over half of the country. Even while the warlords still have military support from the occupation forces their troops are losing in nearly every engagement.

Militarily the war against the Taliban has long been lost. Even with the 100,000 'western' troops the Obama administration had sent there was no way to win it.

President Donald Trump made efforts to end the useless war on Afghanistan. He negotiated with the Taliban to remove all 'western' forces by May 1. The agreement also commits the Taliban to not attacking those forces and to negotiate with the warlord government in Kabul on power sharing. They agreed to that after the U.S. promised that Taliban prisoners of war, held by the Afghan government, would be released.

The Afghan government had and has of course no interest in losing power. At least not as long as still gets sponsored by 'western' money. It also did not want to let prisoners go as those would just turn around and again fight against it. A year ago the Trump administration threatened to withhold money should the Afghan government not follow the negotiated terms:

Facing collapse of Afghan peace talks before they even start, the Trump administration has threatened to withhold up to $2 billion in aid unless President Ashraf Ghani and his main rival put aside their political differences and open negotiations with the Taliban.
The threat was the sharpest sign yet that the Trump administration is distancing itself from its Afghan ally and moving closer to the Taliban. The longtime U.S. adversary has in effect become a wary partner as President Trump seeks to withdraw thousands of American troops before the November election and end America’s longest war.
The Kabul government is heavily dependent on international assistance. U.S. aid was expected to total $4.3 billion this year, all but $500 million of which was earmarked for training and equipping the Afghan army.

The threat worked as expected. But when it became clear that a new management would take over the White House the Afghan government again tried to stall the process. Today the talks resumed but they are unlikely to achieve any results:

Cont. reading: Biden Commits To Forever War On Afghanistan

Posted by b at 17:19 UTC | Comments (140)

February 21, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-015

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

> [E]very U.S. president since Bill Clinton has, at Israeli insistence, signed a secret letter upon entering office that effectively pledges the United States will not “press the Jewish state to give up its nuclear weapons so long as it continued to face existential threats in the region.”
the U.S. government has promulgated a regulation—described in the U.S. Energy Department’s Classification Bulletin WPN-136 on Foreign Nuclear Capabilities—that threatens government employees with severe punishment if they acknowledge Israel has nuclear weapons. Naturally, the regulation is withheld from public release. <
> "Nothing has changed. Biden claims that Trump's policy of maximum pressure was maximum failure... But for all practical purposes, they are pursuing the same policy," he said.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Zarif said that those alleging that the JCPOA has to encompass more subject matters than it already has should be sure that it will “absolutely not.”

The US and some of its regional allies have demanded that Iran’s missile program and regional influence be included in the nuclear talks. Tehran has roundly rejected any such prospect, saying it will not renegotiate “a done deal” and that its defensive activities and regional might are not open to any negotiation. <

> And in fact, Joe Biden’s administration will not cancel anything which was done by Donald Trump except for leaving the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Democrats are returning there now. <

Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-015

Posted by b at 13:45 UTC | Comments (337)

February 20, 2021

NATO Deployments To Iraq Are Supposed To Put Pressure On Iran - They Will Instead Become Hostages

The U.S. is increasing pressure on Iran by surrounding it with NATO troops.

On Thursday, after a meeting of NATO defense ministers, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced a larger occupation force for Iraq:

Today, we decided to expand NATO’s training mission in Iraq. To support the Iraqi forces as they fight terrorism and ensure that ISIS does not return.

The size of our mission will increase from 500 personnel to around 4,000. And training activities will now include more Iraqi security institutions, and areas beyond Baghdad.

Our presence is conditions-based, and increases in troop numbers will be incremental.

Our mission is at the request of the Iraqi government. It is carried out with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

I spoke with Prime Minister Al—Kadhimi this week and assured him that everything will be done in full consultation with the Iraqi authorities.

There is no doubt that the idea for this is coming from the U.S. side:

Earlier this week, a senior US defense official told reporters on the condition of anonymity that Pentagon leadership was “enthusiastic about and welcomes NATO’s increased focus on Iraq.”

Al-Kadhimi is a weak prime minister Iraq has asked for a new $6 billion IMF loan. The U.S. will have conditioned that on a request for an 'incremental' NATO occupation force.

After the U.S. murder of Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in January 2020 the Iraqi parliament adopted a resolution that called for all foreign troops to leave the country. The U.S. has ignored that. Resistance fighters in Iraq then started to fire missiles on U.S. occupied encampments. Earlier this week a rocket barrage hit a U.S. base in Erbil:

Cont. reading: NATO Deployments To Iraq Are Supposed To Put Pressure On Iran - They Will Instead Become Hostages

Posted by b at 17:41 UTC | Comments (129)

February 19, 2021

The No Change Presidency

After a month as president Joe Biden has already broken several major campaign promises.

There will be:

  • No $2,000 checks.
  • No minimum wage rises.
  • No student debt forgiveness.
  • No halting of deportations.
  • No end of the war on Yemen.
  • No return to the JCPOA.

As Alan MacLeod summarizes:

Biden began his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in June 2019 at a Manhattan hotel, telling wealthy donors that “nothing would fundamentally change” under his presidency. After one month in office, it appears as if that is one campaign promise he is likely to keep.

The U.S. will also continue its wars on Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

We are left to guess where, not if, Biden will start another one.

Posted by b at 18:46 UTC | Comments (147)