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January 22, 2019

'Strategic Threat' To Israel - Progressives Lose Fear Of Speaking Out On Palestine

Two weeks ago the Zionist lobby targeted civil rights activist Angela Davis for her support of the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement (BDS). Following lobby pressure the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama canceled its annual gala at which Davis was to receive a prestigious human rights award. This created a huge backlash. The city council of Birmingham unanimously adopted a resolution "recognizing the life work of Angela Davis". The Institute's chair, vice-chair and secretary had to resign from the board.

Following that scandal the gates of hell opened and, on Sunday, the New York Times published a column that criticized the Apartheid policy of the Zionist entity in the Middle East.

Time to Break the Silence on Palestine
Martin Luther King Jr. courageously spoke out about the Vietnam War. We must do the same when it comes to this grave injustice of our time.

Written by Michelle Alexander, a civil rights lawyer, author of The New Jim Crow, and now a regular NYT columnist, the piece reaches back to Martin Luther King. It compares MLK's courageous early opposition to the Vietnam War to today's reluctance of people who are 'progressives except for Palestine' to oppose the policies of the so called Jewish State:

It was a lonely, moral stance. And it cost him. But it set an example of what is required of us if we are to honor our deepest values in times of crisis, even when silence would better serve our personal interests or the communities and causes we hold most dear. It’s what I think about when I go over the excuses and rationalizations that have kept me largely silent on one of the great moral challenges of our time: the crisis in Israel-Palestine.

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Alexander appeals to those who support civil rights to speak out against the Zionist Apartheid policies:

Cont. reading: 'Strategic Threat' To Israel - Progressives Lose Fear Of Speaking Out On Palestine

Posted by b at 01:54 PM | Comments (70)

January 21, 2019

Disunity Of U.S. Commmand Lets Afghan Rebels Win The War

The U.S. war on Afghanistan continues to fail. Disunity of command and lack of political foresight guarantee that the U.S. will be losing it.

Throughout the last months the 'moderate rebels' in Afghanistan made great strides against the U.S. sponsored government forces.

  • Last week a convoy of some 40 trucks loaded with military equipment was ambushed and destroyed (pics, vid). It was the largest such incident since the Soviets left Afghanistan.
  • Also last week a large bomb hit a security compound within the fortified international quarter of Kabul. At least five people died and some hundred were injured.
  • On Sunday a car bomb hit the convoy of the governor of Logar province. Eight of his body guards died in the attack.

Earlier today a raid on a military training center for the National Security Directorate, the Afghan CIA offshoot, killed some 200 forces. The attacking rebels used a U.S. made armored Humvee to drive into the compound and exploded it. A infantry unit followed and shot up the survivors.


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Many successful raids on outlying security posts and police checkpoints are no longer mentioned in western media. The Afghan government has stopped providing casualty numbers.

U.S. foreign policy thinking on Afghanistan is as inept as ever. Witness the head of the Council of Foreign Relation agonizing over what not to do:

Cont. reading: Disunity Of U.S. Commmand Lets Afghan Rebels Win The War

Posted by b at 02:24 PM | Comments (83)

January 20, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-04

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

This week saw another fake story about Trump and Russia. A newly released chapter of Matt Taibbi's book Hate Inc. (available for free) touches on the issue: BuzzFeed's big scoop and the media's giant factual loophole. Doug Johnson Hatlem lists all the Russiagate stories the media retracted or seriously corrected. He is at number 37 so far.

Two weeks ago Senator Lindsay Graham argued against screwing the Kurds in Syria:

SEN. GRAHAM: Well, I had lunch with the president last week and I came away a bit encourage. There are three things that we want to accomplish as part of a withdrawal. We want to make sure that when we leave the Kurds do not get slaughtered. And I don't trust Turkey to take care of the Kurds. It'd be like Putin trying to police Assad. That didn't work well. We need a plan to protect the Kurds from Turkey and others.

The same Senator Graham is now pushing for screwing the Kurds:

"So I told President Trump if you withdraw and do not think this through, you are creating a nightmare for Turkey. President Obama created a nightmare for Turkey by arming elements of the YPG that are clearly tied to the PKK and in the eyes of Turkey this was devastating," Graham said in a statement to reporters in Ankara on Saturday.

Graham believes the US and Turkish militaries are already coordinating on a plan to disarm the YPG.

“Here’s the good news: General Dunford, I think, has a plan that he’s working on with the Turkish military that can accomplish these objectives and they are to move the YPG elements away from Turkey,” said Graham, adding that heavy weapons in particular should be taken away.

Did anyone else publish about the Hersh piece? I have seen none. There are many more interesting bits in there, on Reagan's Star Wars for example, that I did not point out.

Part of old/new star wars plan is new technology to kill missiles shortly after they take off. The idea is bollocks:

A 2012 National Academy of Sciences report puts it very plainly: “Boost-phase missile defense—whether kinetic or directed energy, and whether based on land, sea, air, or in space—is not practical or feasible.”

The latest from Spire FM: The officer, who was hospitalised after being exposed to novichok last March, is on duty once again. - Yulia Skripal recovered in less than ten weeks. Why did it take the doorknobichok™ Det Sgt Nick Bailey a full ten month to come back to work?

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 09:37 AM | Comments (130)

January 19, 2019

Coincidence? - Chief Nurse Of British Army Was First To Arrive At Novichoked Skripal Scene

On March 4 2018 the British/Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found incapacitated on a bench in Salisbury. The British government asserts that they were affected by a chemical poison of the so called Novichok group. The case led to a diplomatic conflict as Britain accused Russia of an attempt to kill the Skripals. No evidence was provided by the British government to support those accusations. The Skripals have since been vanished.

Today an intriguing new detail of the case came to light. Spire FM, a local radio station in Salisbury, reports of a young woman, Abigail McCourt, who was given a 'Lifesaver Award' for her involvement in the Skripal case:

The 16 year old, from Larkhill, was the first to spot two people collapsed on a bench in the Maltings on March 4th and didn't hesitate to help. Abigail quickly alerted her mum, a qualified nurse, who was nearby and together they gave first aid to the victims until paramedics arrived.

It soon became clear this was no ordinary medical incident, but the poisoning of a former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, with Novichok.
...
Immediately following the incident and with the world's media focused on Salisbury, the pair didn't want any want press attention and kept their involvement quiet.

But Abby's mum now feels the time is right for her daughter to be recognised for the "incredible" way she dealt with the scenario. Alison nominated her for the Lifesaver Award at Spire FM's Local Hero Awards, and the judges were unanimous in their decision that Abigail was a very worthy winner.

Earlier reports mentioned that a 'military nurse' had attended to the Skripals. Following the above report Elena Evdokimova checked the name of the young woman's mothers and found a curiosity:

Elena Evdokimova @elenaevdokimov7 - 10:50 utc - 19 Jan 2019

We were right, it was Alison McCourt who was that"unknown military nurse" who, absolutely randomly, happened to be near the bench where #Skripals collapsed . Spire FM alleges that it was her daughter Abigail alerted her, but no one mentioned her before ...

Here is the thing. Alison McCourt is not just one random 'off-duty army nurse'. She is the Chief Nursing Officer for the British Army in the rank of Colonel:

Colonel A L McCourt OBE ARRC QHN - Assistant Head Health Strategy / Chief Nursing Officer (Army) - Senior Health Advisor (Army) Department.

Colonel McCourt was appointed Chief Nursing Officer on February 1 2018, just one month before the Skripal incident happened. Colonel McCourt lives in Larkhill, a garrison town some 11 miles from Salisbury. She is known to visit elsewhere.


Colonel McCourt at Downing Street 10
via QARANAC Association - bigger

Cont. reading: Coincidence? - Chief Nurse Of British Army Was First To Arrive At Novichoked Skripal Scene

Posted by b at 02:41 PM | Comments (132)

January 18, 2019

Reagan Wannabe Relaunches Reagan's Star Wars

On December 12 2001 then President Bush pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. Under the 1972 ABM treaty the Soviet Union and the United States had agreed to deploy only one anti-ballistic missile system each. With that limit gone the U.S. started to build a global missile defense system in Alaska and California that was designed to defend against incoming Russian missiles. The Russian president warned about the illusion such a system would create:

“Starting from 2002, after the US unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, which is an absolute cornerstone of international security, the strategic balance of forces and stability, the creation of the US global missile defense system has been continued persistently,” said the Russian president. According to him, this poses a threat not only to Russia’s security, but also to the entire world — just because of the possible disruption of this strategic balance of forces.

“I think this is harmful for the United States as well, because it creates the dangerous illusion of invincibility,” Putin said.

Russia, like other countries, feared that the U.S. would come to believe that it could launch a large first strike against Russia's strategic weapons and use its missile defense to prevent being hit by a smaller Russian retaliation strike. This upset the balance of Mutual Assured Destruction that has prevented a large scale nuclear war.

The global missile defense system the U.S. installed proved to be largely incapable. Out of a total of ten carefully choreographed tests five failed completely, the others were largely unrealistic.

Still, the issue prevailed and the U.S. kept expanding its missile defense projects. In consequence Russia started research programs to create new weapon system that would be immune to any missile defense. President Putin introduced the new weapons in his state of the nation speech in March 2018. The systems include hypersonic weapons, nuclear propelled cruise missiles and extreme long range torpedoes. All experts agree that there is currently no possible defense against the new Russian systems.

Yesterday the Trump administration issued the Missile Defense Review (pdf) report as mandated by Congress. The MDR report is more hawkish than the last one (pdf) issued in 2010 under the Obama administration. The technical plans therein did not change much. The new review mostly foresees more research into some crazy projects, like space based lasers, that are unlikely to ever be deployed.

The report also proves that missile defense is a self-licking ice cream cone. It uses the new Russian systems, build as reaction to new U.S. missile defense systems, to justify more U.S. missile defense:

Cont. reading: Reagan Wannabe Relaunches Reagan's Star Wars

Posted by b at 12:52 PM | Comments (81)

January 17, 2019

Seymour Hersh: George H.W. Bush Team Leaked To Media To Reveal CIA's Iran-Contra Affair

A new piece by Seymour Hersh in the London Review of Books gives some insight into secret U.S. operations during the Reagan administration. The Vice President’s Men includes a quite sensational claim of who revealed the Iran-Contra affair.

According to the conventional wisdom, as reflected in Wikipedia, an Iranian operator revealed to a Lebanese paper that the U.S. was selling weapons to Iran in the hope to get hostages in Lebanon released:

After a leak by Mehdi Hashemi, a senior official in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa exposed the arrangement on 3 November 1986. This was the first public report of the weapons-for-hostages deal.

People is the National Security Council used profits from these weapon sales to illegally arm and finance CIA run anti-government gangs in Nicaragua. Both, the weapon sales to Iran and the weapon delivery to guerilla in Nicaragua, were illegal under U.S. law. The leak to Lebanese paper blew up both operations.

That Mehdi Hashemi, the Iranian operative, leaked the affair is only supported by second hand hearsay from a dubious source. Seymour Hersh reports of a very different culprit.

According to his sources former CIA director George H.W. Bush, who was then Reagan's vice president, ran his own secret operations through a special office in the Pentagon. It was led by Vice-Admiral Arthur Moreau. The office and its operations were kept outside of congressional oversight. Neither the CIA nor the Joint Chief's of Staff were aware of its doing. During some 30 different operations the Bush team used small groups of U.S. marines to affect Soviet operations in foreign countries and to get rid of unwanted foreign politicians. Bush essentially ran the prequel of the 'war on/of terror' which today is run by the CIA and the Joint Special Forces Command.

Bush disliked William Casey, who Reagan had named as new CIA director. Casey was a business man who got the job after he managed Ronald Reagan's election campaign. Bush thought that he was too incompetent to run the clandestine service.

One of the operations run under Bush also involved Nicaragua, but had nothing to do with the later Iran-Contra scandal. At the same time the CIA director William Casey was drumming up support for the Contras in Nicaragua. The two operations collided when Lieutenant Colonel Oliver (Ollie) North at the National Security Council used the proceeds from the weapon sales to Iran to illegally finance the CIA's Contras in Nicaragua. While North was also a confidante of the Bush/Moreau's operations, he allegedly freelanced and eventually deserted to the CIA side.

According to a former officer involved in Bush's operations office, Bush and Moreau feared that the CIA's widely expanding Iran-Contra operation run by Oliver North would become a threat to their own operations. They decided to blow it up:

‘Ollie brings in Dick Secord and Iranian dissidents and money people in Texas to the scheme, and it’s gotten totally out of control,’ the officer said. ‘We’re going nuts. If we don’t manage this carefully, our whole structure will unravel. And so we’ – former members of Moreau’s team who were still working for Bush – ‘leaked the story to the magazine in Lebanon.’ He was referring to an article, published on 3 November 1986 by Ash-Shiraa magazine in Beirut, that described the arms for hostages agreement. He would not say how word was passed to the magazine, ...

According to Hersh's source the effect of the leak to the Lebanese paper was foreseen and intended:

The officer explained that it was understood by all that the scandal would unravel in public very quickly, and Congress would get involved. ‘Our goals were to protect the Moreau operation, to limit the vice president’s possible exposure, and to convince the Reagan administration to limit Bill Casey’s management of covert operations. It only took a match to light the fire. It was: “Oh my god. We were paying ransom for the hostages – to Iran.”’

If Hersh's anonymous source is correct, which I have no reason to doubt, the Iranian Mehdi Hashemi did not leak the issue. It was bureaucratic infighting between a former CIA director, who continued to run secret operations, and a sitting one, who was deemed incompetent by the former, that led to the disclosure of the Iran-Contra affair.

Seymour Hersh is known to have lots of contacts with former officials and officers. According to his on telling he is actively seeking them out as soon as they retire. Old men like to tell war stories, but dislike to damage their still living friends. George H.W. Bush died last November. Hersh likely knew the story long ago but is only now allowed to tell it.

The new Hersh/LRB piece is quite long and the details seems to have little relevance for current affairs. But his sources tell an interesting story about the backstage fights that went on between the various branches of the national security bureaucracy during the Reagan presidency. There is no doubt that similar fights, including intentional leaks to damage competing officials, continue today.

Posted by b at 02:11 PM | Comments (76)

January 16, 2019

A Turkish 'Security Zone' In Northeast Syria Is A Bad Idea

U.S. President Trump wants U.S. troops to leave northeast Syria. His National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried to sabotage that move. Trump came up with idea to hand northeast Syria to Turkey, but soon was told that Turkey would fight the Kurdish YPK/PKK who the U.S. armed and used as proxy force against the Islamic State.

Turkey has no interest in fighting the Islamic State or in occupying Raqqa and other Arabic ethnic cities along the Euphrates. Its only interest is to prevent the formation of an armed Kurdish entity that could threaten its soft southern underbelly. It thus came up with the idea of a "security zone" in Syria that it would occupy to keep the Kurds away from its borders.


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But that border strip is exactly where the major Kurdish settlements are. Ayn al-Arab, in Kurdish 'Kobane', and many other cities along the border all have largely Kurdish populations. These would certainly fight against a Turkish occupation. Turkey also wants to control the Manbij area west of the Euphrates.

Russia will not allow Turkish control of more Syrian land:

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday the Syrian regime must take control of the country's north, after calls from the United States to set up a Turkish-controlled "security zone" in the area.

"We are convinced that the best and only solution is the transfer of these territories under the control of the Syrian government, and of Syrian security forces and administrative structures," Lavrov told reporters.

The Kurdish organizations and the Syrian government also also reject the Turkish plan:

“Syria affirms that any attempt to target its unity will be considered as a clear aggression and an occupation of its territories as well as a support and protection for the international terrorism by Turkey,” [an official source at Foreign and Expatriates Ministry] said.

Turkey moved enough troops to its border to launch an invasion but the risk for its economy is high. There are local elections in March and the Turkish President Erdogan does not want to upset them by jumping into a quagmire. Erdogan will soon visit Russia again and discuss the issue with President Putin. Most likely Erdogan will be convinced that Syrian government control over the Kurdish areas, and Russian guarantees for a mostly quiet border, are a better solution than a costly Turkish occupation of a hostile population.

Earlier today a suicide bomber killed 4 U.S. soldiers and wounded at least three in an attack in Manbij city (video). A number of YPK/PKK fighters and bystanders were also killed or wounded. The incident happened in front of a restaurant where the U.S. troops presumably were meeting someone. In March 2018 an IED attack in Manbij killed two U.S. soldiers.

Cont. reading: A Turkish 'Security Zone' In Northeast Syria Is A Bad Idea

Posted by b at 11:51 AM | Comments (124)

January 15, 2019

Putin Asks And Trump Delivers - A List Of All The Good Things Trump Did For Russia

Slate's Fred Kaplan writes:

The Washington Post’s Greg Miller reported Sunday that President Donald Trump’s confiscation of the translator’s notes from a one-on-one conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017 was “unusual.” This is incorrect. It was unprecedented. There is nothing like it in the annals of presidential history.

Not really. Other U.S. leaders held long private meetings with their counterparts without notes being taken.

When Richard Nixon met Leonid Brezhnev he did not even bring his own interpreter:

George Szamuely @GeorgeSzamuely - 20:57 utc - 14 Jan 2019

Nixon would meet Brezhnev alone, the only other person in attendance being Viktor Sukhodrev, the Soviet interpreter. "Our first meeting in the Oval Office was private, except for Viktor Sukhodrev, who, as in 1972, acted as translator." Nixon on Brezhnev's 1973 visit. RN, p.878 . Therefore, the only "notes" that would exist would be those of the Soviet interpreter. Not sure he would have time to make notes and translate and, even if he did so, whether those notes would be housed in any US archive.

Nixon's White House office was bugged. There are probably tape recordings of the talks. There might also be recordings of the Trump-Putin talks.

At their 1986 Reykjavik summit Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev talked without their notetakers:

Mr. Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev began their second day of talks with a private meeting that had been scheduled to last 15 minutes but ran for nearly 70 minutes, with only interpreters present. They met in a small room in the Soviet Mission, with the Soviet leader seated in a small armchair and Mr. Reagan on a sofa.

In the afternoon, they meet alone for a little over 20 minutes and then again for 90 minutes. All told, the two leaders have spent 4 hours and 51 minutes alone, except for interpreters, over the two days here.

The archives of the Reykjavik talks do not include any notes of those private talks.

But, who knows, maybe Nixon and Reagan where also on the Russian payroll, just like Donald Trump is today.


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Only that Trump is controlled by Putin can explain why the FBI opened a counter-intelligence investigation against Trump (see section three).

That the FBI agents involved in the decision were avid haters of Russia and of Trump has surely nothing to do with it. That the opening of a counter-intelligence investigation gave them the legal ability under Obama's EO12333 to use NSA signal intelligence against Trump is surely irrelevant.

What the FBI people really were concerned about is Trump's public record of favoring Russia at each and every corner.

Trump obviously wants better diplomatic relations with Russia. He is reluctant to counter its military might. He is doing his best to make it richer. Just consider the headlines below. With all those good things Trump did for Putin, intense suspicions of Russian influence over him is surely justified.

Cont. reading: Putin Asks And Trump Delivers - A List Of All The Good Things Trump Did For Russia

Posted by b at 02:12 PM | Comments (122)

January 13, 2019

The Moon of Alabama Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-03

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

We had the suspicion that Bolton was freelancing with the conditions and time table he set for a U.S. move out of Syria. A later Wall Street Journal piece confirmed that. It included this great line:

“Nothing has changed,” one defense official said. “We don’t take orders from Bolton.”

The piece is an attempt to stay up-to-date on the various Trump-Russia narratives. It is a quite long read. For the gist read the intro, section 3 and the conclusions.

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 01:35 PM | Comments (219)

The Trump-Russia Scam - How Obama Enabled The FBI To Spy On Trump

Despite the loss of major narratives, the war of the deep state against U.S. President Trump continues unabated. The main of tool in this  war are allegations of relations between Trump and anything Russia. The war runs along several parallel paths.

The narrative war in the media is most visible one. When any of the fake stories about Trump and Russia gets debunked and disposed, new ones are created or others intensified.

In parallel to these propaganda efforts the deep state created an investigation that Trump has no way to escape from. Enabled by one of the Obama administrations last acts the investigation is using signal intelligence to entrap and flip the people surrounding Trump (see section three below). The big price will be Trump himself. Here we take a look at what transpired during the last weeks.

Cont. reading: The Trump-Russia Scam - How Obama Enabled The FBI To Spy On Trump

Posted by b at 01:15 PM | Comments (90)

January 12, 2019

NYT Laments U.S. Disengagement Even As There Is None

On its frontpage the New York Times delivers an utterly deranged 'News Analysis' of the possible end of the illegal occupation of east Syria by the United States military:

As U.S. Exits Syria, Mideast Faces a Post-American Era

When Turkey, Iran and Russia meet to talk about the end of the war in Syria, they do so without the United States.

Peace talks to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been frozen for years, but the long-awaited Trump plan to break the impasse has yet to arrive.

And now, despite conflicting messages about how and when it will happen, the United States is set to withdraw from Syria.

The withdrawal, which the military said began with equipment removal on Friday, is just the latest instance of a broader American disengagement from the Middle East that could have lasting effects on one of the world’s most volatile regions.

The U.S. has not, and likely will not, "disengage" from the Middle East. Its military has some 53,000 soldiers stationed in at last 27 bases in 12 Middle Eastern countries (not counting those in Syria).

Estimated US troop numbers stationed in the Middle East in 2017

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Besides the troops there are a large number of civil personal supporting or replacing them:

Cont. reading: NYT Laments U.S. Disengagement Even As There Is None

Posted by b at 12:41 PM | Comments (119)

January 10, 2019

Pompeo's Middle East Speech - A Blustering Promise Of Less U.S. Involvement

Today Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, visited Egypt. He held a somewhat delusional speech at the American University in Cairo. It is headlined:

A Force for Good: America Reinvigorated in the Middle East:

There is little in the speech that supports the headline. It starts with blustering:

[B]ecause I’m a military man by training, I’ll be very blunt and direct today: America is a force for good in the Middle East.

We need to acknowledge that truth, because if we don’t, we make bad choices – now and in the future.

Pompeo blames Obama for the trouble the "force of good" caused:

Remember: It was here, here in this city, that another American stood before you.

He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from an ideology. He told you that 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed, quote, “a new beginning,” end of quote. The results of these misjudgments have been dire.

In falsely seeing ourselves as a force for what ails the Middle East, we were timid in asserting ourselves when the times – and our partners – demanded it.
...
The good news. The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering. Now comes the real new beginning.

It follows a list of false claims and fake history:

For those who fret about the use of American power, remember this: America has always been, and always will be, a liberating force, not an occupying power. We’ve never dreamed of domination in the Middle East.

Pompeo ignores the still valid Carter doctrine which demands exclusive U.S. domination of the Middle East: "An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

When the mission is over, when the job is complete, America leaves. Today in Iraq, at the government’s invitation, we have approximately 5,000 troops where there were once 166,000. We once had tens of thousands of U.S. military stationed – personnel stationed in Saudi Arabia. Now that number is a tiny fraction.

In 2011 the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki rejected to sign a Status of Force agreement that would have given U.S. troops in Iraq special rights. In consequence the U.S. had to retreat from Iraq. A few troops came back to fight the Islamic State which Obama let grow to eject Maliki. Those troops will too have to leave. After the 1991 war against Iraq, Saudi Arabia came under pressure from radical Islamists to kick the many U.S. troops out of the country. Several thousand sill stayed. After the Kohbar tower bombing in 1996 the rest had to go too. In both cases the retreat was not voluntarily.

The speech goes on with a long passage of bashing Iran and lauding Israel. Pompeo says that the Trump administration wishes to establish the 'Middle East Strategic Alliance', an Arab NATO that allies with Israel. A pipe dream born out of sheer ignorance that is destined to fail.

We’re also seeing remarkable change. New bonds are taking root that were unimaginable until very recently. Who could’ve believed a few years ago that an Israeli prime minister would visit Muscat?

Israel's then Prime Minister Rabin visited Oman in 1994. Two years later then Prime Minister Shimon Peres followed. So yeah, a lot of people could have believed that. None of them though believes that a 'Middle East Strategic Alliance' will ever be more than a talking point.

The speech then comes to the core of Trump's thinking and policy:

Cont. reading: Pompeo's Middle East Speech - A Blustering Promise Of Less U.S. Involvement

Posted by b at 02:50 PM | Comments (194)

January 09, 2019

Stuff To Read: Integrity Initiative, Skripal, Kaspersky ...

The is no original piece ready to post today, but here are some interesting links:

  • The Russian anti-virus company Kaspersky was contacted by someone who it found to be related to the U.S. National Security Agency. Kaspersky immediately told the NSA about the contact. Following that tip the FBI arrested Harold T. Martin, a NSA contractor who had collected the NSA entire arsenal of digital weapon at is home. Despite that very helpful tip by Kaspersky the U.S. government continues to harass the company and to claim that it was working as an agent of the Russian government.
    Exclusive: How a Russian firm helped catch an alleged NSA data thief, Kim Zettler, Politico

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There are several new stories about the Integrity Initiative though still none in any mainstream media.

Apropos Skripal

  • Over several months Rob Slane at The Blogmire did a detailed analysis of the Skripal case and the often contradictory information that officials and media have published. Rob has the advantage of living in Salisbury, where the Skripals were allegedly poisoned. Today he published the summation of his series about the case:
    Summing up the Official Claims in the Salisbury Poisonings: Weighed in the Balances and Found Wanting
    Neither Rob nor I have a sound theory of what really happened in Salisbury. There are many possible explanations, but none for which there is sufficient evidence. What we do know is that the British government lied and lies about the case from A to Z.
  • Last but not least a 20 minute video by Prolekult about the (geo-)politics of Brexit and the Skripal mess in Britain. Interestingly Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seems to be pushing the 'blame Russia' racket just as much as the Conservatives. (Disclaimer - I do not endorse the views of the authors.):
    History is Marching | Part five: The Fall of the British Empire (vid)

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 12:58 PM | Comments (106)

January 08, 2019

Turkey Rejects New U.S. Syria Plan - Humiliates John Bolton

On Sunday National Security Advisor John Bolton tried to set conditions for a U.S. retreat from Syria:

Bolton, on a trip to Israel and Turkey, said he would stress in talks with Turkish officials, including President Tayyip Erdogan, that Kurdish forces must be protected.
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Asked whether a U.S. withdrawal would not take place in Syria until Turkey guaranteed the Kurdish fighters would be safe, Bolton said: “Basically, that’s right.”
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"We don’t think the Turks ought to undertake military action that’s not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the United States at a minimum,” Bolton said, “so they don’t endanger our troops, but also so that they meet the president’s requirement that the Syrian opposition forces that have fought with us are not endangered.”

Turkey was not amused. The YPG Kurds, which the U.S. uses in Syria as cannon fodder to fight the Islamic State, are the same organization as the PKK which acts as a terrorist group in Turkey. Turkey can not allow that group to exist on its border as an organized military force.

When Bolton landed in Turkey today he received a very cold welcome. The planned meeting with the Turkish President Erdogan did not take place. The meeting John Bolton, Joint Chief of Staff Joe Dunford and Syria envoy James Jeffrey held with the Turkish National Security Advisor Ibrahim Kalin was downgraded and took less than two hours. A planned joint press conference was canceled.

The U.S. delegation did not look happy, or even united, when it left the presidential compound in Ankara.


via Vivian Salaman - bigger

Shortly after Bolton's meeting Erdogan held a speech to his parliament group. It was a slap in Bolton's face. Via Raqip Solyu:

Erdogan says he cannot accept or swallow the messages given by US National Security Advisor Bolton in Israel.

Erdoğan, “YPG/PKK are terrorists. Some say ‘don’t touch them because they are Kurds’. This is unacceptable. Everyone can be a terrorist. They could be Turkmans. Their ethnicity doesn’t matter. Bolton made a big mistake by his statements”

Erdogan on the Syria policy chaos in Washington: "As it happened in the past, despite our clear agreement with Trump on US withdrawal from Syria, different voices started to come out from different levels of the American administration."

Erdogan says Turkey continues to rely on Trump’s view on Syria and his decisiveness on the pullout. "We, largely, completed our military preparations against ISIS in accordance with our agreement with Trump"

"Saying that Turkey targets Syrian Kurds, which is a lie itself, is the lowest, most dishonorable, ugliest, most banal slander ever" Erdogan added.

Erdogan's communication director gave the last kick:

Cont. reading: Turkey Rejects New U.S. Syria Plan - Humiliates John Bolton

Posted by b at 11:47 AM | Comments (152)

January 07, 2019

Fake News Reports Blamed Cuba, Russia And China Of 'Sonic Attack' On U.S. Diplomats - The Culprits Were Crickets

In the autumn of 2016 U.S. diplomats stationed in Cuba started to complain about being affected by some mysterious noise. Twenty four embassy staff and family claimed a bizarre list of symptoms - from headaches, dizziness and sleeping difficulties to problems with balance, vision and hearing. Doctors were not sure what affected these people. There were all kinds of speculations about a mysterious 'sonic weapons' with which the diplomats were 'attacked', but no convincing evidence was found.

Cuba fully cooperated with an FBI investigation into the mystery. Scientist dispelled the idea of a 'sonic weapon' attack. The medical evidence turned out to be dubious. Nevertheless anti-Cuban politicians in the U.S. successfully used the issue to pressure the White House to penalize the country. The Trump administration recalled 60% of its embassy personal in Havana and expelled Cuban diplomats from the embassy in Washington. It issued a travel warning for its citizens going to Cuba and stopped issuing visas for Cubans in Havana.

The investigation continued. Some recordings of the mysterious noise were made and doctors played various of these to the affected persons. The patients confirmed that the sound was like the noise that had bothered them. On October 17 2017 those sound files were given to the Associated Press and published (vid). In its report on the files the AP noted that:

It sounds sort of like a mass of crickets.

The Cuban government and its scientist analyzed those sound files and compared them with known sound sources in Cuba. On October 27 2017 they published their conclusions. The results were also handed to U.S. investigators. The AP reported the Cuban finding:

Cuba on Thursday presented its most detailed defense to date against U.S. accusations that American diplomats in Havana were subjected to mysterious sonic attacks that left them with a variety of ailments including headaches, hearing problems and concussions.

In a half-hour, prime-time special titled “Alleged Sonic Attacks,” Cuban officials attempted to undermine the Trump administration’s assertion that 24 U.S. officials or their relatives had been subjected to deliberate attacks by a still-undetermined culprit.
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Officials with Cuba’s Interior Ministry said that U.S. investigators had presented them with three recordings made by presumed victims of sonic attacks and that analysis of the sounds showed them to be extremely similar to those of crickets and cicadas that live along the northern coast of Cuba.

“It’s the same bandwidth and it’s audibly very similar,” said Lt. Col. Juan Carlos Molina, a telecommunications specialist with the Interior Ministry. “We compared the spectrums of the sounds and evidently this common sound is very similar to the sound of a cicada.”

Base on the AP report this site mocked the U.S. diplomats over their retreat from cricket noise.

The Havana incident was probably based on some innocent fear of some weapon. Or it may have been a ploy by anti-Cuban forces to sabotage the recovering relations with Cuba. Most likely though the whole issue was a mass psychosis over an unfamiliar natural noise - crickets.

The AP wire story ran on many news sites but only few looked further into it. The report should have closed the issue, but it was soon forgotten.

Even after the Cuban scientist delivered their very plausible explanation, U.S. government fear mongering over the 'sonic attack' did not die down. Only the target changed.

In May 2018 the U.S. suddenly accused China of a similar 'attack' as the ones that allegedly happened in Cuba:

Cont. reading: Fake News Reports Blamed Cuba, Russia And China Of 'Sonic Attack' On U.S. Diplomats - The Culprits Were Crickets

Posted by b at 01:41 PM | Comments (79)

January 06, 2019

The Moon of Alabama Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-01

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

The war on Yemen continues despite the ceasefire agreement in Sweden:

    Ceasefire in Al Hudaydah with the Taste of Saudi Bombs!
Since the World Food Program issued its threat, Saudi propaganda claims that the Houthi steal more WFP goods. These claims are false.

Al Arabiya English: Houthi attacks target warehouses storing Yemen food aid

Campbell MacDiarmid @CampbellMacD - 9:06 utc - 6 Jan 2019
A spokesperson for @WFP_MENA told me that the warehouse hasn't been under their contract for three months, they have no access to the area it is in, and it didn't contain any WFP foodstocks

Arab News: Houthis seize dozens of relief trucks: Yemen minister

Campbell MacDiarmid @CampbellMacD - 9:07 utc - 6 Jan 2019
A @WFP_MENA spokeswoman told me that the trucks haven't been seized, they have been delayed for inspection for one day longer than usual.

Forgot to link this: The Briefing note on the Integrity Initiative by Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason and Piers Robinson is the most complete analysis of the Integrity Initiative papers.

The British Private Eye finds a relation between the Integrity Initiative and the Rendon Group which drove the propaganda for the Iraq invasion.

I'll have to say more on the issue. For some fun, check the attachment to this tweet. (Klarenberg writes for Sputnik.)

Kit Klarenberg @KitKlarenberg - 19:51 utc - 5 Jan 2019
Head of @InitIntegrity's German cluster says he's going to bring criminal charges against me for accessing II internal files. In the process helpfully confirming many of the people I contacted in the cluster for comment ARE collaborating with the organization!! Cheers pal!

Bolton is coming up with new pie-in-the-sky conditions for the U.S. retreat from Syria:

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said Sunday that the U.S. military withdrawal from northeastern Syria is conditioned on defeating the remnants of the Islamic State group, and on Turkey assuring the safety of Kurdish fighters allied with the United States.

Bolton, who traveled to Israel to reassure the U.S. ally of the Trump-ordered withdrawal, said there is no timetable for the pullout of American forces in northeastern Syria, but insisted it’s not an unlimited commitment.
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Bolton said U.S. troops would remain at the critical area of al-Tanf, in southern Syria, to counter growing Iranian activity in the region. He defended the legal basis for the deployment, saying it’s justified by the president’s Constitutional authority, adding “I’m a strong believer in Article II.”

Sure, Turkey will guarantee not to attack the U.S. armed YPG/PKK that is daily fighting its troops within Turkey. Not!

See also this thread by Aaron Stein:

Aaron Stein @aaronstein1 - 20:17 utc - 5 Jan 2019

On Tanf, think Bolton is - once again - over his ski tips and not speaking for POTUS. This is how we got into this mess in the 1st place. It is very disconcerting
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In Idleb governorate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has taken the town of Al Atareb without resistance. Atareb was the last somewhat neutral ground in Idleb with a local administration. A video shows a Zenki convoy of some 25 cars and two tanks that got stuck while fleeing al-Nusra. The Zenki fighters fled on foot towards Afrin and left the convoy and its load for Nusra to take.

Last night Turkey moved "moderate rebel" fighters it earlier sent to the Euphrates to fight the Kurds back to Afrin. It seems to prepare for a campaign to regain the ground Nusra took over last week from Turkish proxy rebels in Idelb. I'll prepare a large bowl of popcorn for watching that fight.

Other issues:

The New York Times once had the famous slogan "All the news that's fit to print." Nearer to reality is the slogan "All the news that fits our agenda." For a prime example see this: The Sounds That Haunted U.S. Diplomats in Cuba? Lovelorn Crickets, Scientists Say:

Diplomatic officials may have been targeted with an unknown weapon in Havana. But a recording of one “sonic attack” actually is the singing of a very loud cricket, a new analysis concludes.

Unmentioned in the NYT piece on 'new' U.S. research on the noise is the fact that in October 2017 Cuban scientist had already come to the same conclusion. Back then Moon of Alabama mocked the U.S. over the issue: Cuba - U.S. Diplomats Retreat In Horror ... Because ... 'Crickets'

Recommended:

John Pilger Special-A Look Back at 2018, Look Forward to 2019 - Video

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 10:06 AM | Comments (231)

January 05, 2019

Syria - Turkey Fails In Idleb, Is Unwilling To Take The Northeast

The neoconservatives in the Trump administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton and the Syria envoy James Jeffery, are scrambling to save their plans for Syria that President Trump disposed of when he ordered a complete retreat.

Those plans were for a permanent U.S. occupation of northeast Syria, the reduction of Iranian influence within the government held parts of Syria and an eventual disposal of the Syrian government under President Assad through negotiations. These were unicorn aims that had no chance to ever be achieved.

Moreover Trump had never signed off on these ideas. Back in April he had announced that he wanted U.S. troops out of Syria. He gave his staff six month to achieve that. But instead of following those orders Pompeo and Bolton tried to implement their own plans:

Late last year, some of the president’s hawkish advisers drafted a memo committing the United States to a longer-term presence in Syria that included goals of an enduring defeat of the Islamic State, a political transition and the expulsion of Iran, officials said. The president has not signed the memo, which was presented to him weeks ago.

In fact, Trump had warned his aides for months that he wanted out of Syria in short order.
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Bolton’s Iran plan never really took effect at the Pentagon, where officials were not officially tasked with any new mission in addition to the operation against the Islamic State. Military officials likewise viewed Iran’s expansion into Syria as problematic, but they were skeptical about the lack of a clear legal justification that would be required for offensive military action against Iranian-backed forces.

Trump recognized that those plans were nonsense and ordered to end them. In that process he came up with a likewise unicorn idea - to hand northeast Syria to Turkey to fight the already defeated Islamic State. Turkey does not want northeast Syria. It does not want to risk a bloody war against the Kurds that would be required to sustain such an occupation.


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The only appropriate solution is to hand control of northeast Syria (yellow) back to the Syrian government (red). Damascus would disarm the Kurds or integrate them within its national army. They would be under control and no longer a threat to Turkey. Everyone could live with such an easy solution.

Everyone but the neocons.

Today National Security Advisor Bolton is on his way to Israel to cook up new plans:

Cont. reading: Syria - Turkey Fails In Idleb, Is Unwilling To Take The Northeast

Posted by b at 02:20 PM | Comments (128)

January 04, 2019

'Integrity Initiative' - New Documents From Shady NGO Released

The British Government runs an anti-Russian smear campaign through the pseudo non-government-organization Integrity Initiative. Some person, operating under the 'Anonymous' label, obtained internal papers of the Initiative and publishes those in several batches. Moon of Alabama was one of the first sites that analyzed the released papers.

Our last piece on the Initiative concluded:

After reading through all the released Initiative papers and lists one gets the impression of a secret military intelligence operation, disguised as a public NGO. Financed by millions of government money the Institute for Statecraft and the Integrity Initiative work under a charity label to create and disseminate disinformation to the global public and back into the government and military itself.

Today the Anonymous account released a new batch of some 50 internal Integrity Initiative documents at the Cyber Guerrilla website.

With the new release Anonymous lays out a timeline that connects the Skripal affair in Britain with the activities and personal of the Integrity Initiative. Our last piece had already drawn the Skripal connection to the Initiative, but some of the new documents add to the trail.

The trail starts with a document (pdf), written in January 2015(!), that lays out a plan and options for sanctioning Russia.


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Cont. reading: 'Integrity Initiative' - New Documents From Shady NGO Released

Posted by b at 11:52 AM | Comments (80)