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December 08, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-72

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Related:
Episode 368 – The Douma Hoax: Anatomy of a False Flag - Corbett Report

Tareq Haddad @Tareq_Haddad - 11:25 UTC · Dec 7, 2019
Yesterday I resigned from Newsweek after my attempts to publish newsworthy revelations about the leaked OPCW letter were refused for no valid reason.

Related:
What really happened in Iran? - Asia Times

Related:
Who holds the Initiative, and who has the Power to mobilise the Street in Iraq? - Elijah Magnier

Related:
Fear and Loathing? The 2020 Election is a Repeat of 1972 - The Sports Geek
The Russians Are Coming! - Daniel Larison, TAC

Related:
How Aramco’s Huge I.P.O. Fell Short of Saudi Prince’s Wish - NYT
American Soldiers Are Not Bodyguards for Saudi Royals - Doug Bandow, TAC
Saudi Arabia - a family holding company, not a friend. - Pat Lang

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-72

Posted by b at 13:35 UTC | Comments (77)

December 06, 2019

Saudi Arabia Retreats From The Troubles Its Clown Prince Caused

When the Saudi King Salman promoted his son Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) to Defense Minister and then Crown Prince the expectations were high. But three of the major projects Muhammad launched since then soon ran into trouble. Now initiatives are under way to limit the damage he caused. The end of the five year old Saudi war on Yemen is coming into sight. The public offering of the Saudi state owned ARAMCO oil company is finally happening but with a much lower valuation than originally planned. The thirty month spat with Qatar is under repair. 

On August 17 2019 a Yemeni drone attack on Saudi Arabia's oil installations proved that the Saudis had lost the war. Moon of Alabama's headline empasized the effect that it would have:

Long Range Attack On Saudi Oil Field Ends War On Yemen

Today's attack is a check mate move against the Saudis. Shaybah is some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from Houthi-controlled territory. There are many more important economic targets within that range. [...]
The attack conclusively demonstrates that the most important assets of the Saudis are now under threat. This economic threat comes on top of a seven percent budget deficit the IMF predicts for Saudi Arabia. Further Saudi bombing against the Houthi will now have very significant additional cost that might even endanger the viability of the Saudi state. The Houthi have clown prince Mohammad bin Salman by the balls and can squeeze those at will.

A month later another large scale attack disabled half of the Saudi oil output.

The Saudis have since procured additional U.S. military units to provide more air defenses around their oil installations. But U.S. air defenses are not effective against the kind of attacks the Yemenis launched. The Saudis had no choice but to sue for peace.

For several months there have been talks in Oman between Saudi official and Houthi delegations. An preliminary agreement was found but no official announcements were made. That changed today when Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir made a comment that for the first time recognized the Houthi as a legitimate Yemeni entity:

Speaking on the situation in Yemen, al-Jubeir said that there is a possibility of reaching a truce in the country, which could be followed by a settlement.

“Yemen is of particular importance to us, and Iran’s intervention there is devastating. The only solution in Yemen is political, and the Houthis are the ones who started the war, not us.”

“All Yemenis, including the Houthis, have a role in the future of Yemen,” he added.

Today the Saudis also released some 200 prisoners who belonged to the Houthi. They were flown to Yemen's capital Sanaa. The preliminary agreement foresees the forming of a common government by the Houthi and the Saudi controlled former president Hadi.

This is not yet the end of the war. It will take quite some time before a new Yemeni government will evolve as the Saudis still have some unrealistic demands:

Cont. reading: Saudi Arabia Retreats From The Troubles Its Clown Prince Caused

Posted by b at 18:59 UTC | Comments (111)

December 05, 2019

The Delusions Of The Impeachment Witnesses Point To A Larger Problem

During yesterday's impeachment hearing at the House House Judiciary Committee one of the Democrats' witnesses made some rather crazy statements. Pamela Karlan, a Stanford law professor, first proved to have bought into neo-conservative delusions about the U.S. role in the world:

America is not just 'the last best hope,' as Mr. Jefferies said, but it's also the shining city on a hill. We can't be the shining city on a hill and promote democracy around the world if we're not promoting it here at home.

As people in Bolivia and elsewhere can attest the United States does not promote democracy. It promotes rightwing regimes and rogue capitalism. The U.S. is itself not a democracy but a functional oligarchy as a major Harvard study found:

Economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

But worse than Karlan's pseudo-patriotic propaganda claptrap were her remarks on the Ukraine and Russia:

This is not just about our national interests to protect elections or make sure Ukraine stays strong and fights the Russians so we don't have to fight them here, but it's in our national interest to promote democracy worldwide.

That was not an joke. From the video it certainly seems that the woman believes that nonsense.


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For one the Ukraine is not fighting "the Russians". The Kiev government is fighting against east-Ukrainians who disagree with the Nazi controlled regime which the U.S. installed after it instigated the unconstitutional Maidan coup. Russia supplies the east-Ukrainians and there were a few Russian volunteers fighting on their side but no Russian military units entered the Ukraine.

But aside from that how can anyone truly believe that the Ukraine "fights the Russians so we don't have to fight them here"?

Is Russia on the verge of invading the United States? Where? How? And most importantly: What for?

How would that be in Russia's interest?

One must be seriously disturbed to believe such nonsense. How can it be that Karlan is teaching at an academic level when she has such delusions?

And how is it in U.S. interest to give the Ukraine U.S. taxpayer money to buy U.S. weapons? The sole motive behind that idea was greed and corruption, not national interest:

[U.S. special envoy to Ukraine] Volker started his job at the State Department in 2017 in an unusual part-time arrangement that allowed him to continue consulting at BGR, a powerful lobbying firm that represents Ukraine and the U.S.-based defense firm Raytheon. During his tenure, Volker advocated for the United States to send Raytheon-manufactured antitank Javelin missiles to Ukraine — a decision that made Raytheon millions of dollars.

The missiles are useless in the conflict. They are kept near the western border of Ukraine under U.S. control. The U.S. fears that Russia would hit back elsewhere should the Javelin reach the frontline in the east and get used against the east-Ukrainians. That Trump shortly held back on some of the money that would have allowed the Ukrainians to buy more of those missiles thus surely made no difference.

To claim that it hurt U.S. national interests is nonsense.

It is really no wonder that U.S. foreign policy continuously produces chaos when its practitioners get taught by people like Karlan. In the Middle East as well as elsewhere Russian foreign policy runs circles around U.S. attempts to control the outcome. One reason it can do that is the serious lack of knowledge and realism in U.S. foreign policy thinking. It is itself the outcome of an educational crisis. U.S. 'political science' studies implement a mindset that is unable to objectively recognize the facts and fails to respond to them with realistic concepts.

The Democrats are doing themselves no favor by producing delusional and partisan witnesses who repeat Reaganesque claptrap. They only prove that the whole affair is just an unserious show trial.

In the meantime Trump is eliminating food stamps for some 700,000 recipients and the Democrats are doing nothing about it. Their majority in the House could have used the time it spent on the impeachment circus to prevent that and other obscenities.

Do the Democrats really believe that their voters will not notice this?

Posted by b at 15:40 UTC | Comments (210)

December 04, 2019

The Times' Middle East Columnist Fails On Basic Facts

Ladies and Gentlemen, we present the Middle East columnist of the 'paper of record', Tom Friedman:

    Iran Is Crushing Freedom One Country at a Time


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Having covered the Middle East my entire adult life, I’m seeing some trends emerging there that I’ve never seen before.
...
The Iranian ayatollahs even had to largely shut down their own internet to prevent the domestic rebellion from spreading. Ever since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2002, Iran has never wanted to see a stable, multisectarian, secular democracy emerge in Baghdad, because then Iranian Shiites would be asking why Iraqi Shiites get to live freely and they don’t.

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For the record. The invasion of Iraq began on March 19 2003, not in 2002. Friedman should know that. He and his paper were major pro-war propagandists in the run up to it.

During the first three years of the war Friedman went on to predict 14 times that 'success' in Iraq would come within the "next six months", a period now known as a Friedman unit.

If the New York Times and its main Middle East columnist can not even get that date right what else do they get wrong?

A cursory read of Friedman's anti-Iranian column suggests that the answer is "everything".

 

Posted by b at 13:34 UTC | Comments (110)

December 03, 2019

Cleanup On Aisle 5

ABC News @ABC - 14:57 UTC - 3 Dec 2019

Asked if the U.S. supports Iranian protesters, Pres. Trump says, "I don't want to comment on that, but the answer's no. But I don't want to comment on that." abcn.ws/2K0BLjq

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CLEANUP ON AISLE 5! CLEANUP ON AISLE 5!
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Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 15:33 UTC - 3 Dec 2019

The United States of America supports the brave people of Iran who are protesting for their FREEDOM. We have under the Trump Administration, and always will!

Posted by b at 16:05 UTC | Comments (112)

December 02, 2019

As The OPCW Is Accused Of False Reporting U.S. Propaganda Jumps To Its Help

An international organization published two false reports and got caught in the act. But as the false reports are in the U.S. interests a U.S. sponsored propaganda organization is send out to muddle the issue. As that effort comes under fire the New York Times jumps in to give the cover-up effort some extra help.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) manufactured a pretext for war by suppressing its own scientists' research:

OPCW emails and documents were leaked and whistleblowers came forward to speak with journalists and international lawyers. Veteran journalist Jonathan Steele, who has spoken with the whistleblowers, wrote an excellent piece on the issues. In the Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens picked up the issue and moved it forward.

Under U.S. pressure the OPCW management modified or suppressed the findings of its own scientists to make it look as if the Syrian government had been responsible for the alleged chemical incident in April 2018 in Douma.

The public attention to the OPCW's fakery lead to the questioning of other assertions the OPCW had previously made. With the OPCW under fire someone had to come to its help.

To save the propaganda value of the OPCW reports the U.S. financed Bellingcat propaganda organization jumped in to save the OPCW's bacon. Bellingcat founder "suck my balls" Elliot Higgins claimed that the OPCW reports satisfied the concerns the OPCW scientist had voiced.

That assertion is now further propagated by a New York Times piece which, under the pretense of reporting about open source analysis, boosts Bellingcat and its defense of the OPCW:

Cont. reading: As The OPCW Is Accused Of False Reporting U.S. Propaganda Jumps To Its Help

Posted by b at 16:43 UTC | Comments (94)

December 01, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-71

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Related:
John Barnett on Why He Won’t Fly on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner - Corporate Crime Reporter
NTSB recommends Boeing redesign and retrofit engine casing on thousands of 737s - Seattle Times
Problems Pile Up for Boeing as 737 Max Delays Continue - New York Times

>Meanwhile, Congress, following a hearing last month where it grilled Boeing’s chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg, is planning to hold a hearing next month at which it expects F.A.A. officials to testify about whether there are other problems with the Max that Boeing hasn’t yet addressed.<

There are at least three issues where the 737 MAX does not conform to current or even older regulation:
- A turbine disk rupture could cut the unprotected rudder cables.
- The manual trim can not be moved at higher speeds to correct stabilizer position problems.
- The cockpit misses an integrated crew alert system (EICAS) and can confuse the pilots with a multitude of dubious alarms.

Related:
House Democrat walks back remark favoring censure over impeachment - The Hill
House Intelligence Committee to review impeachment investigation report Monday - The Hill
Democrats have a better choice than impeachment - CNN

Related:
U.S. Dems’ dangerous demagoguing on Russia - Helena Cobban - Just World News

Related:
PETER HITCHENS: My secret meeting with mole at the heart of The Great Poison Gas Scandal - Mail on Sunday

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-71

Posted by b at 15:16 UTC | Comments (227)

November 30, 2019

OPCW Manipulation Of Its Douma Report Requires A Fresh Look At The Skripal 'Novichok' Case

With regards to the revelations about the OPCW management manipulation of its staff reports the former UN weapon inspector Scott Ritter makes a very valid point:

Thanks to an explosive internal memo, there is no reason to believe the claims put forward by the Syrian opposition that President Bashar al-Assad’s government used chemical weapons against innocent civilians in Douma back in April. This is a scenario I have questioned from the beginning. It also calls into question all the other conclusions and reports by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was assigned in 2014 “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic.”

Besides its activities around dubious 'chemical' incident in Syria there is another rather famous case in which the OPCW got involved: The alleged 'Novichok' attack on Sergei and Julia Skripal in Salisbury, Britain.

We discussed the OPCW involvement in the Skirpal case in our April 15 2018 report: Were the Skripals 'Buzzed', 'Novi-shocked' Or Neither?

The Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov, threw a bombshell at the British assertions that the collapse of the British secret agent Sergej Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4 in Salisbury was caused by a 'Novichok' nerve agent 'of a type developed by Russia'. (See our older pieces, linked below, for a detailed documentation of the case.)

  • The Skripal poisoning happened on March 4.
  • Eye witnesses described the Skripals as disoriented and probably hallucinating. The emergency personal suspected Fentanyl influence.
  • A few days later the British government claimed that the Skripals had been affected by a chemical agent from the 'Novichok' series which they attributed to Russia. It insinuated that the Skripals might die soon.
  • A doctor of the emergency center at the Salisbury District Hospital publicly asserted that none of its patients was victim of a 'nerve agent'.
  • On March 14, after much pressure from Russia, Britain finally invited the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to analyze the blood of the victims and to take environmental samples.
  • The OPCW arrived on March 19 and took specimen on the following days. It also received a share of the samples taken earlier by the British chemical weapon laboratory in Porton Down, which is only some 10 miles away from Salisbury.
  • The OPCW split the various samples it had in a certified laboratory in the Netherlands and then distributed them to several other certified laboratories for analysis.
  • One of those laboratories was the highly regarded Spiez Laboratory in Switzerland which is part of the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection and fully certified.
  • On April 12 the OPCW published a public version of the result of the analyses it had received from its laboratories.
  • A more extensive confidential version was given to the state members that make up the OPCW.

During a public speech yesterday Lavrov stated of the OPCW report:

[A] detailed and fairly substantial confidential version was distributed to the OPCW members only. In that report, in accordance with the OPCW way of conduct, the chemical composition of the agent presented by the British was confirmed, and the analysis of samples, as the report states, was taken by the OPCW experts themselves. It contains no names, Novichok or any other. The report only gives the chemical formula, which, according to our experts, points to an agent that had been developed in many countries and does not present any particular secret.

After receiving that report Russia was tipped off by the Spiez Laboratory or someone else that the OPCW report did not include the full results of its analysis.

According to Lavrov this is what the Spiez Laboratory originally sent to the OPCW:

“Following our analysis, the samples indicate traces of the toxic chemical BZ and its precursor which are second category chemical weapons. BZ is a nerve toxic agent, which temporarily disables a person. The psycho toxic effect is achieved within 30 to 60 minutes after its use and lasts for up to four days. This composition was in operational service in the armies of the US, the UK and other NATO countries. The Soviet Union and Russia neither designed nor stored such chemical agents. Also, the samples indicate the presence of type A-234 nerve agent in its virgin state and also products of its degradation.

The "presence of type A-234 nerve agent", an agent of the so called 'Novichok' series, in its "virgin state", or as the OPCW stated in "high purity", points to later addition to the sample. The 'Novichok' agents are not stable. They tend to fall rapidly apart. Their presence in "virgin state" in a sample which was taken 15 days after the Skripal incident happened is inexplicable. A scientist of the former Russian chemical weapon program who worked with similar agents, Leonid Rink, says that if the Skripals had really been exposed to such high purity A-234 nerve agent, they would be dead.

The whole case, the symptoms shown by the Skripals and their recuperation, makes way more sense if they were 'buzzed', i.e. poisoned with the BZ hallucinogenic agent, than if they were 'novi-shocked' with a highly toxic nerve agent.

The OPCW had send blood samples from the Skripals to the Spiez laboratory in Switzerland which found BZ, a psycho agent 25 times stronger than LSD. The OPCW hid this fact in its reports.

An attack with BZ on the Skripals would be consistent with the observed symptoms that bystanders had described. The Skripals were indeed hallucinating and behaved very strangly with Sergei Skipal lifting his arms up to the sky while sitting on a bench. Exposure to BZ would also explain the Skripals' survival.

The OPCW explained the BZ find by claiming that it had mixed BZ into the probe to test the laboratory. Something which it said it regularly does. At that time I still believed in the OPCW and found that explanation reasonable:

The OPCW responded to Russian question about the BZ and high rate of A-234 in the Spiez Laboratory probe and report.

OPCW said today that it was a control probe to test the laboratory. Such probes are regularly slipped under the real probes to make sure that the laboratories the OPCW uses are able to do their job and do not manipulate their results.

That explanation is reasonable.

I guess we can close the BZ theories and go back to food poisoning as the most likely cause of the Skripals' illness.

In light of the OPCW management manipulation or suppression of the reports of its own specialists for the purpose of attributing the Douma incident to the Syrian government I have to change my opinion. I hereby retract my earlier acceptance of the OPCW's explanation in the Skripal case.

As we now know that the OPCW management manipulates reports at will we can no longer accept the 'control probe' excuse without further explanations or evidence.

Here is what seems to have happened.

The OPCW did not send a control sample to Spiez to test the laboratory. It sent the original samples from the Skripals. Spiez found BZ and reported that back to the OPCW. The OPCW suppressed the Spiez results in its own reports. Somehow Russia got wind of the Spiez results and exposed the manipulation.

Acceptance that the Skripals had been 'buzzed', not 'novi-shocked' is central to the Skripal case. It makes the whole Skripal case as a British operation to prevent the repatriation of Sergei Skripal to Russia much more plausible.

Posted by b at 19:34 UTC | Comments (108)

November 29, 2019

OPCW Manufactured A Pretext For War By Suppressing Its Own Scientists' Research

Leaks from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) prove that the OPCW management ignored or manipulated reports its Fact Finding Mission had written about the April 2018 Douma incident in Syria.

The history of the Douma incident and the OPCW and media manipulation around it is available from the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media under the headline: How the OPCW’s investigation of the Douma incident was nobbled. Our own posts around the incident are linked below.

The OPCW management ignored that the technical, chemical and medical analysis of its own specialists exculpated the Syrian government from the allegation that it poisoned some 40 people in Douma by dropping Chlorine canisters from a helicopter.

The OPCW scientific staff found that dropping the canisters could not have created the damage that was found. Those canisters must have been placed by hand. The amount of chlorinated organic chemicals found at the two scenes was very low and it is very unlikely that they are the result of a reaction with chlorine gas. The medical symptoms of the casualties as was seen in various videos at the time of the incident were inconsistent with death by chlorine inhalation.


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The OPCW management twisted the interim and the final OPCW report on the incident to make it look as if the Syrian government was guilty of dropping chlorine canisters. The detailed internal technical analysis was ignored. It was replaced by external analysis from unknown sources who claimed the opposite of what the OPCW engineers and chemists had found. The wording of the report suggests that high levels of chlorinated organic chemicals were found without giving the very low concentrations (in parts per billions) that were actually found. The internal medical analysis was eliminated from the official report.

OPCW emails and documents were leaked and whistleblowers came forward to speak with journalists and international lawyers. Veteran journalist Jonathan Steele, who has spoken with the whistleblowers, wrote an excellent piece on the issues. In the Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens picked up the issue and moved it forward:

Cont. reading: OPCW Manufactured A Pretext For War By Suppressing Its Own Scientists' Research

Posted by b at 19:02 UTC | Comments (66)

November 28, 2019

Open Thread 2019-70

No Turkey for me ...

Posted by b at 14:04 UTC | Comments (203)