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June 30, 2018

"Officials" Attempt To Sabotage Further North Korea Talks

Several Congress people and some officials in the CIA and Trump administration try to throw a spanner into the negotiations with North Korea. They "leak" to NBC News about an intelligence assessment on North Korea's nuclear facilities. The result is a sensationalized piece that includes no surprising facts.

North Korea has increased nuclear production at secret sites, say U.S. officials
"Work is ongoing to deceive us on the number of facilities, the number of weapons, the number of missiles," said one U.S. official.

One of the NBC authors is Ken Dilanian who is well known for his tight cooperation with the CIA.

Its opening:

U.S. intelligence agencies believe that North Korea has increased its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months — and that Kim Jong Un may try to hide those facilities as he seeks more concessions in nuclear talks with the Trump administration, U.S. officials told NBC News.

The intelligence assessment, which has not previously been reported, seems to counter the sentiments expressed by President Donald Trump, who tweeted after his historic June 12 summit with Kim that "there was no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea."

Analysts at the CIA and other intelligence agencies don't see it that way, according to more than a dozen American officials who are familiar with their assessments and spoke on the condition of anonymity. They see a regime positioning itself to extract every concession it can from the Trump administration — while clinging to nuclear weapons it believes are essential to survival.

The result of the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore was a "freeze for freeze" deal. North Korea stopped its nuclear and missile testing while the U.S. stopped the large maneuvers it regularity held with South Korea's army. Both sides agreed to further talks. North Korea made some aspirational statements about denuclearization which have the same time frame as similar aspirational statements made by the U.S. in Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). There is no time frame to reach a certain state. There is no commitment towards declaring nuclear sites nor is there a commitment to stop the production of nuclear stuff.

Trump declaration that there is "no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea" is correct in the sense that there is certainly no North Korean intent to launch a nuclear attack.

Kim Jong Un will not only "try to hide" the North Korean nuclear facilities. He will surely keep them secret as long as he can. The security of his country depend on them.

That "more than a dozen American officials" talk with NBC on that issue shows that there is a concerted operation to sabotage a possible deal. Those opposed try to move the goalposts.

While the North Koreans have stopped missile and nuclear tests, "there's no evidence that they are decreasing stockpiles, or that they have stopped their production," said one U.S. official briefed on the latest intelligence. "There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the U.S."

Four other officials familiar with the intelligence assessment also said North Korea intended to deceive the U.S.

Why is it "deceiving" when North Korea continues something that it did not promise to stop? Why is it "deceiving" when North Korea rejects to submit targeting coordinates of its nuclear facilities? There is no deceiving in either.

The intelligence assessment the "American officials" (the term includes Congress staffers) talk about says that North Korea has the well known Uranium enrichment site in Yongbyon, a second one at an unnamed place and possibly a third one. All of this was known to people who read the details about the issue. They are not new and were certainly known to the CIA boss Pompeo and Trump while the negotiations took place:

Ankit Panda @nktpnd - 12:00 UTC - 30 Jun 2018
These assessments have been around since at least May, I understand, so POTUS should have been briefed prior to the Singapore summit.

The "leak" to the NBC/CIA's Ken Dilanian lacks any surprising content. The only interesting point is that it happened at all. It demonstrates that are are serious forces who will try their best to sabotage the talks and a possible agreement.

To take the next steps towards a larger deal and towards peace on the Korean peninsula will require month of diligent and detailed talk and serious attention by senior administration officials. Until a special envoy is named to lead further talks Secretary of State Pompeo will continue the negotiations. He will visit Pyongyang next week to push the issue.

In my view the Korea talks are one of the few things the Trump administration is doing right. It is sad that many are out to destroy them.

Posted by b on June 30, 2018 at 02:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (49)

June 29, 2018

British Parliament Confirms 'Conspiracy Theory' - Torture and Renditions Continue

On December 13 2005 the British Secretary of State Jack Straw was questioned by the British Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs about illegal "renditions". Straw responded:

Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States, and also let me say, we believe that Secretary Rice is lying, there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition full stop, because we have not been, and so what on earth a judicial inquiry would start to do I have no idea.

Those who believed in that 'conspiracy theory' were right, finds the British Parliament:

Britain’s intelligence services tolerated and abetted “inexcusable” abuse of terrorism suspects by their American counterparts, according to a report released by Parliament on Thursday that offers a wide-ranging official condemnation of British intelligence conduct in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
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The committee documented dozens of cases in which Britain participated in sending suspects to other countries that were known to use torture or aided others in doing so — a practice known as rendition.

There has still not been a judicial inquiry into the issue. The parliament report notes that the British government blocked access to relevant documents and prohibited the questioning of many witnesses the parliament inquiry wanted to hear.

Ambassador Craig Murray, who blew the whistle on British complicity in torture in Uzbekistan, notes:

Theresa May specifically and deliberately ruled out the Committee from questioning any official who might be placed at risk of criminal proceedings – see para 11 of the report. The determination of the government to protect those who were complicit in torture tells us much more about their future intentions than any fake apology.

In fact it is impossible to read paras 9 to 14 without being astonished at the sheer audacity of Theresa May’s attempts to obstruct the inquiry. They were allowed to interview only 4 out of 23 requested witnesses, and those were not allowed “to talk about the specifics of the operations in which they were involved nor fill in any gaps in the timeline”.

There is also evidence that the British MI6 outsourced illegal operations to other countries or agencies:

Although British policy prohibited rendition, the committee found, British agents repeatedly aided other countries in sending suspects to places where there was a high probability they would be mistreated. In three cases, it reported, the British paid, or offered to pay, for renditions; in 28, they “suggested, planned or agreed to rendition operations” conducted by others; and in 22, they provided intelligence to enable a rendition to take place.

The United Nations considers such extraordinary renditions to be crimes against humanity. Neither the U.S. nor the United Kingdom has held anyone but a few grunts accountable for their involvement in these crimes.

Murray concludes:

The British state has since repeatedly acted to ensure impunity for those involved, from Blair and Straw down to individual security service officers, who are not to be held responsible for their criminal complicity. This impunity of agents of the state is a complete guarantee that these evil practices will continue.

It seems that impunity is part of the "western values". The CIA, MI6 and the myriad of "special forces" under this or that name continue to use these illegal practices.

The United Arab Emirates were just found to torture random Yemenis in its prisons in south Yemen. U.S. special forces and CIA interrogators are present:

Hundreds of men swept up in the hunt for al-Qaida militants have disappeared into a secret network of prisons in southern Yemen where abuse is routine and torture extreme — including the “grill,” in which the victim is tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire, an Associated Press investigation has found.
...
Several U.S. defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the topic, told AP that American forces do participate in interrogations of detainee.

Prisoners get isolated, threatened with dogs, waterboarded and more:

They raped detainees while other guards filmed the assaults. They electrocuted prisoners' genitals or hung rocks from their testicles. They sexually violated others with wooden and steel poles.
"They strip you naked, then tie your hands to a steel pole from the right and the left so you are spread open in front of them. Then the sodomizing starts," said one father of four.

The U.S. defense establishment claims that none of its soldiers are "present" when actual torture happens. It also put bridges on sale. The CIA declined to comment to AP.

Some of the chaps the Saudi-UAE alliance or its al-Qaeda allies round up are brought onto (U.S.?) ships off the Yemeni coast where U.S. personal - special forces, CIA agents or their contractors - 'interrogate' these prisoners. To say that they directly torture them is - Jack Straw would say - a conspiracy theory.

Unless some court finally takes up the issues and throws some higher ranking officers and politicians into prison for committing these crimes nothing of this will change.

Posted by b on June 29, 2018 at 10:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (145)

June 27, 2018

China's Port In Sri Lanka's Is Good Business - The NYT's Report On It Is Propaganda

'China's financial imperialism' is a relatively new genre in western journalism. China is providing loans to other countries to build infrastructure. If those countries can not pay back the loans, China offers to lease and manage the infrastructure built with its money. That somehow is supposed to create a "debt trap for vulnerable countries".

Yesterday the New York Times lamented about Sri Lanka's Hambantota Port Development Project:

Over years of construction and renegotiation with China Harbor Engineering Company, one of Beijing’s largest state-owned enterprises, the Hambantota Port Development Project distinguished itself mostly by failing, as predicted. With tens of thousands of ships passing by along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the port drew only 34 ships in 2012.

And then the port became China’s.

Mr. Rajapaksa was voted out of office in 2015, but Sri Lanka’s new government struggled to make payments on the debt he had taken on. Under heavy pressure and after months of negotiations with the Chinese, the government handed over the port and 15,000 acres of land around it for 99 years in December.

The port is in a strategic location right alongside the shipping lines between Asia and the Middle East and Africa.


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The U.S. does not like it that China is building infrastructure in such a strategic position. Instead of competing with it in the same field it is betting on propaganda and a more militaristic approach.

The first warning flag that the NYT piece is part of such propaganda is the quoted statistic. Why is it using a 2012 number of 34 ship arrivals  for a port that only opened in late 2010? Ocean ports do not develop in just two years. It takes decades to develop their hinterland and businesses. Unlike Sri Lanka's main port Colombo, which is specialized in container traffic and already congested, Hambantota was build to handle other goods:

In the first nine months of 2014, the number of vehicles handled at Hambantota crossed the 100,000 mark, up more than 300% compared to the same period in 2013, with the number of ship calls more than doubling to 161.

Currently about one ship per day, mostly large car carriers, arrive at Hambantota. Unlike container ships which stay only for hours, car carriers take a few days and to load and unload. Handling them requires a lot of personal. It is good business.

To show how "bad" the Chinese investment is the Times points to only 34 ships in 2012. But the 2017/18 number is at least ten times as big. Why wasn't the new number used?

The propaganda continues:

The case is one of the most vivid examples of China’s ambitious use of loans and aid to gain influence around the world — and of its willingness to play hardball to collect.

Surely no other countries do such? Other countries do not use loans to gain influence? Other countries do not play hardball to collect?

The new government in Sri Lanka is less China oriented and more willing to listen to its big neighbor India. India does not like that its small neighbors develop with Chinese help. But it does not make the investments to compete with it. The Indian Center of Policy Research, also quoted by the NYT, is the loudest lamenter about "China’s debt-trap diplomacy". It sets the tone of 'western' reporting. While it is partly financed by the Indian government its List of Granting Organisations (PDF, pg 47) also include the:

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USA; William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, USA; Ford Foundation, USA; Oak Foundation; the Asia Foundation, USA, NAMATI Inc. USA; Omidyar Network Foundation, USA;

The NYT gives more scary numbers:

The Central Bank estimated that Sri Lanka owed China about $3 billion last year. But Nishan de Mel, an economist at Verité Research, said some of the debts were off government books and instead registered as part of individual projects. He estimated that debt owed to China could be as much as $5 billion and was growing every year. In May, Sri Lanka took a new $1 billion loan from China Development Bank to help make its coming debt payment.

Are $5 billion big money for a country with some 22 million inhabitants? Not in this case.

Sri Lanka's net external debt to foreign countries is some $52 billion. The debt-to-GDP ratio is about 77%, lower than for most European countries. Over the last twelve years Sri Lanka received about $8 billion in loans from China some of which are already paid back. Its current obligations to China of about $5 billion are only 10% of its total obligations. All of the Chinese loans were bound to infrastructure development: power plants, ports, highways and airports. IMF loans Sri Lanka received come with political demands like increases of value added taxes. China does not set such conditions.

The whole NYT piece is based on old or partial numbers, cited without context, that do not reflect Sri Lanka's real economic position. The country may have a long term debt problem, but China is not the cause of it.

One may be critical of China's Belt and Road initiative which develops trade routes with the help of loans for infrastructure and long term leases. It is a form of commercial imperialism and many of its projects have some problems. But unlike 'western' financing it is neither bound to military allegiance nor does it come with overly political demands. The loans it provides are collateralized with the projects it is building. They create local employment and productivity. To call such loans 'predatory' or 'debt traps' is highly misleading.

Posted by b on June 27, 2018 at 07:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (107)

June 26, 2018

Open Thread 2018-32

[Just arrived back home after an extended and somewhat hilarious stay with my extended family. Regular blogging will proceed tomorrow.]

News & views ...

Posted by b on June 26, 2018 at 01:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (117)

June 24, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2018-31

[Please excuse the lack of posts this week. I am with my larger family and the kids keep me busy.]

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

The U.S. embassy in Jordan let the "rebels" in southwest Syria know that they are on their own: ".. you should not base your decision on the assumption or expectation of military intervention by us." Several towns in the area have already decalred their will to reconcile with the Syrian government. More will follow. The Russian air force started to support the Syrian operations around Daraa with heavy bombing. The U.S. or Israel are now unlikely to intervene with anything but the usual propaganda. Get ready for new "last hospital", "barrel bombs", "chemical attack" and other nonsense headlines. Eva Bartlett is on the ground and reports from Hader, A Village Under Siege by al-Qaeda and Israeli Forces Alike.

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b on June 24, 2018 at 05:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (311)

June 22, 2018

Syria - Damascus And Its Allies Prepare To Remove U.S. Forces From Al-Tanf

On June 8 we asked if the then ongoing ISIS attack on Albu Kamal was part of a U.S. plan:

There is sneaking suspicion that the U.S. directed the ongoing ISIS attack on Abu Kamal to gain control over the crossing and to disable road supplies from Iran through Iraq into Syria.
...
The U.S. must be given no chance to use the ISIS pretext to take Abu Kamal. The Syrian government must rush to support its forces in the border city. It must immediately request that Iraqi forces cross the border from Al-Qaim and support the endangered Syrian troops.

Some reinforcement came in and Albu Kamal was soon back in Syrian government hands. The Syrian army also launched an operation to destroy ISIS positions in southeastern desert.


Southeast Syria (red: Syrian Army, green: U.S. zone around al-Tanf crossing to Iraq, grey: ISIS, yellow: U.S./Kurdish SDF) bigger

But U.S. interference in the east continued:

The Russian military is warning of a false-flag "chemical incident" in Deir Ezzor governorate. The Syrian Observatory reports that Islamic State remnants in the southeastern desert and in the Rukban camp, both under cover of the U.S. occupied zone around al-Tanf, prepare for a large attack on Syrian government forces. It claims that such an attack is an attempt to occupy the zone between al-Tanf and Albu Kamal at the Euphrates. Both operation would be planned diversions intended to draw Syrian forces away from Deraa and could provide excuses for U.S. intervention on the opposition side.

Late Sunday an airstrike destroyed a building in the Harri area near Albu Kamal directly on the Syrian-Iraqi border. The building was used as a headquarter for the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU) who are securing the border in coordination with the Syrian army in the fight against the Islamic State. More than 20 fighters were killed and more than 10 were wounded. This may have been in preparation for the reportedly planned large ISIS attack.

Another serious incident followed last night when U.S. supported Maghawhir al-Thawra "rebels" (which include 'former' ISIS fighters) attacked Syrian government forces:

A Syrian army officer was killed in a U.S strike on a Syrian army outpost near a U.S. base close to the Iraqi-Syrian border, a commander in the regional alliance supporting President Bashar al-Assad told Reuters.

The Pentagon, said, however, that a U.S.-backed Syrian rebel group stationed in the Tanf garrison had engaged on Thursday evening an “unidentified hostile force” outside a “deconfliction zone” around the garrison, forcing it to retreat. It said there were no casualties on either side.

The Syrian Observatory claims that eight Syrian soldiers were killed in the attack. There is some footage of a desert chase with "technicals" that is supposed to be from these clashes. They took place in al-Halba, 70 kilometers northwest of al-Tanf and only 50 kilometers from Palmyra.

The U.S. sent "rebels" it trains at al-Tanf outside its self declared 55 kilometers deconfliction zone around Tanf to attack Syrian government forces. It supported them by air strikes. U.S. special forces are said to have taken part. This is likely the case as only U.S. special forces can call in such airstrikes.

It seems obvious that the U.S. is using ISIS, U.S. trained "Maghawhir al-Thawra" rebels, and its air power in another attempt to cut the land route between Syria and Iraq. It wants to use the upcoming Syrian campaign against al-Qaeda and ISIS in the southwest around Daraa to make a new move in the east.

But Syria and its allies will not allow that. They are building up their own forces in the east. As Elijah Magnier reported yesterday:

[D]uring my visit to the city of Palmyra and its surroundings, the presence of thousands of Russian troops is striking, indicating that Moscow is sending new infantry and special forces in very large numbers. This large presence has not been announced.

The Syrian army is also sending additional forces into the area and more Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units have arrived in the Al-Qaim/Albu-Kamal area.

Syria and its allies obviously decided to counter the U.S. move. Their operations at the Syrian-Iraqi border are coordinated by the common operation room in Baghdad.


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Last night Syria, Iraq, Iran and Russia again discussed the situation in the east and made their decision:

SURA @AlSuraEnglish - 23:47 UTC - 21 Jun 2018

#BREAKING - #Iraq, #Syria, #Russia and #Iran confirm new mission to secure the #Iraqi-#Syrian border from all terrorist groups. The mission was devised in the operations room in Iraq's capital, #Baghdad.


 via Sura - Iraqi, Syrian, Iranian and Russian officers in the operations room Baghdad - bigger

"All terrorist groups" include the Maghawhir al-Thawra "rebels" and their U.S. protectors at al-Tanf.

Meanwhile the Syrian army continues its preparations for the large attack around Daraa which might bring it in conflict with Israel.


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The U.S. again issued a nonsensical warning against such an attack but with a significant change in its wording:

The statement, however, omitted a line in a past statement on the subject that said the U.S. would take “firm and appropriate measures” if Syria violated the de-escalation measure.

It has been confirmed that Iran will not be involved in the fight in Daraa (We had noted that three weeks ago.) Hizbullah special forces might take part in the areas near the Lebanese border. Jordan reinforced its position on its side of the border. It is unlikely to join any fight but it will want to keep fleeing "rebels" from entering the country.

The operation in the southwest around Daraa will proceed. The U.S. attempts to use the occasion to cut Syria from Iraq in the east will be prevented by the new Baghdad operations room mission. Its high time for the U.S. to give up on its nonsense schemes in the southeast. The humanitarian situation in the Rukban camp near the U.S. positions in al-Tanf is catastrophic and the civilians there want to come back under Syrian government control. The al-Tanf position is indefensible against any larger force. The U.S. forces there can still move out without a fight. If they do not leave voluntarily, force will be used to remove them.

Posted by b on June 22, 2018 at 06:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (108)

June 21, 2018

Open Thread 2018-30

News & views ...

Posted by b on June 21, 2018 at 01:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (115)

June 20, 2018

Pity The Russophobe Journos Whom No One Believes

The "western" reporting on the World Cup in Russia is a stream of continuous Russia bashing. Some positive remarks are made about the obviously excellent atmosphere and organization. But no piece gets published that does not include a reinforcement of the official anti-Russian propaganda lines.

Alec Luhn is the "Russia correspondent for The @Telegraph". Shaun Walker is a correspondent for the British Guardian who is "Covering central and eastern Europe for The Guardian." This week both were in Volgograd, the former Stalingrad, to report on the World Cup game between England and Tunisia.

On Monday Alec Luhn wrote about the excellent welcome the English fans received:

It’s been brilliant,” said Adam Haimes, 29, a geologist and Plymouth Argyle supporter drinking in the fan zone, set up on the west bank of the mighty Volga River. “I have had absolutely zero problems. All sorts of Russians have come up to us and are being friendly and just wanting to have drinks with us. I didn’t expect it but they are so lovely.

That positive picture of Russia can of course can not stand alone. Luhn thus mentions: the "threat of violence", the "attempted assassination of the Russian spy Sergei Skripal", "ratcheted up tensions", "Russian Ultras" and "Volgograd’s local hoodlums".

On Tuesday evening Shaun Walker wrote a piece for the Guardian which followed a similar scheme:

[T]hose who came were almost uniformly positive about the experience so far. At a central Volgograd bar in the early hours of Tuesday, Craig and Tommy, two Sunderland fans, were practising Russian phrases with obliging locals and said they had spent three days in “fantastic” Volgograd, bonding with the locals and taking military history tours.

“We’re sick of people talking about trouble. If you’re respectful there won’t be any problems,” said Tommy.

Reading Walker's piece would make Tommy even sicker. It repeats all the usual propaganda points: "unprecedented tension", "strongly critical of Russian authorities", "poisoning of Sergei Skripal", "1936 Olympics, held in Nazi Germany" and "safety of LGBT fans".

After having delivered their propaganda routines Luhn and Walker joined the English fans in a local pub.

Alec Luhn @ASLuhn - 00:02 UTC - 19 Jun 2018

Harat's Pub, Volgograd, 3am. 100 or so drunk British fans, some Tunisians, and some Russian guys who just chanted something about "jugend SS." What could wrong?

Shaun Walker @shaunwalker7 - 00:32 UTC - 19 Jun 2018

3.30am, dawn breaks over this pub in Volgograd - English, Tunisian, russian fans all hammered and having a good time. Zero security or police, surprisingly. Did hear a group of three Russians sing a "Hitler Jugend, SS" song. Otherwise all very peaceful and friendly.


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The Shaun Walker and Alec Luhn tweets show pictures of a Harat's Pub, an Irish franchise, in Volgograd. On its Facebook page the pub posted a Euronews video of the after-game party in which happy English fans dunk lots of beer. There is nothing remarkable in it.

But Alec Luhn sees Russians chanting about "jugend SS" and a half hour later Walker "hears a group of three Russians sing a "Hitler Jugend, SS" song".

Or did they?

It is difficult to believe that any Russian in Volgograd/Stalingrad would sing some Nazi song. Stalingrad was where one of bloodiest battle of World War II was fought, where immense Russian sacrifice stopped Hitler's armies. Besides that what please is a "Hitler Jugend, SS" song? As a German I have never heard of a song that mentions both or is even typical for both. The Hitler Jugend was a party youth organizations modeled after the Boy Scouts of America. The SS (Schutzstaffel = protection squadron) was a gang of Nazi streetfighters which were later turned into a brutal military. The Songbook of the Hitler Jugend has mostly traditional hiking songs while the typical SS songs were militaristic marches.

As of now the Walker tweet received 249 replies. The people who responded doubt that the incident happened as described. They ask for evidence. Why can those journalist post pictures of the pub but no pictures of the incident they claim? This obviously can't be another Shaun ‘wish I’d brought my camera’ Walker moment. So where is the beef?

The next morning Shaun Walker retweeted his original assertions and lamented about the responses he received:

Shaun Walker @shaunwalker7 - 9:28 UTC - 19 Jun 2018

Shaun Walker Retweeted Shaun Walker
Volgograd has been fun and friendly and a great World Cup host, as I've been tweeting/writing for past two days. The chant below was three people, once, at 3am. And so weird - in Volgograd of all places! - I thought worth a mention. The state of the responses, God.

The Guardian's Moscow Bureau Chief joined in and also retweets the Walker claim spreading it further and further:

Andrew Roth @Andrew__Roth - 14:37 UTC - 19 Jun 2018

Andrew Roth Retweeted Shaun Walker
Absurd the responses to this incident that multiple correspondents saw. And their point is that it was an outlier in what sounded like a fine night at the football. Context is all here, should they ignore it instead?

If two British scribes say they heard something, which each describes differently, then it must be true. "Evidence? We don't report with evidence. Trust us."

This morning a Russian blogger posted some evidence (machine translated from Russian):

Borisenko @amdn_blog - 7:58 UTC - 20 Jun 2018

Remember yesterday there was a lot of talk about the English journalist who wrote about the alleged Russians who sang Nazi songs in a bar in Volgograd? They found them. But they were not Russian, but... British. Actually, for that, it's e... Lo must be beaten. This is Volgograd! Stalingrad!


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The attached a video shows three drunk British blokes in an 'Irish' pub where the menu is written in Cyrillic letters and World Cup flags hang from the ceiling. The blokes sing a line about putting someone to Auschwitz, give the Hitler salute and shout "Sieg Heil!" The pub where the video was taken seems to be a different one than the Harat's Walker and Luhn visited. But the point was made.

Fact is that the Guardian and the Telegraph are full of anti-Russian propaganda. There is no piece in them about Russia or Putin that does not include snide and  fear mongering or repeats long refuted claims about this or that incident for which Russia is claimed to be responsible. The military industrial complex gave order to condemn Russia and the "western" main stream media follow through.

Both of the scribes quoted English fans who lament about the false picture they had when they arrived in Russia. Might that have something to do with the constant stream of russophobe trash the British media provides? Should a British correspondent in Russia take some time to reflect upon that?

But the two scribes go off to have lots of beer to then send spurious, late-night, anti-Russian claims to their 100,000 followers without  providing any evidence. Then they lament about being called out for that.

They are mediocre propagandists whom's words no one trusts or believes. One must truly pity these guys.

Posted by b on June 20, 2018 at 04:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (82)

June 19, 2018

Syria - Ready To Start The Daraa Campaign

There are signs that the long expected liberation of the Daraa region in southwest Syria is about to begin. After a month of negotiations between Russia, Israel, Jordan and the U.S. no peaceful solution has been found. The various terrorist forces in the (green) area, including al-Qaeda aligned HTS and groups loyal to the Islamic State, have rejected all negotiations. For over a month Russian negotiators tried to convince locals to give up and to reconcile with the government. But the hardliners under the rebels have killed anyone who talked with the Russians. The U.S. government has warned against a Daraa operation and threatened to intervene.


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First airstrikes were launched by the Syrian government today against villages in the eastern part of the Deraa area. Some local fighting is ongoing. This is not yet the expected all out attack on the 'rebel' held areas but the testing of enemy forces. The Syrian army has assembled a large force to liberate the southwest. It includes ten thousands of soldiers, more than 100 tanks and lots of artillery. Short range air defenses have been moved into the area to protect the Syrian troops. A well coordinated attack on several front and multiple axes should allow for a quick victory.

Israel, with U.S. backing, might intervene in such an operation even if it makes little sense to do so. The current state can not continue indefinitely. Any intervention might well lead to a war for which Israel is unprepared. The Syrian army is willing and able to hit back into Israel. After seven years of war it is not afraid of a fight.

The Russian military is warning of a false-flag "chemical incident" in Deir Ezzor governorate. The Syrian Observatory reports that Islamic State remnants in the southeastern desert and in the Rukban camp, both under cover of the U.S. occupied zone around al-Tanf, prepare for a large attack on Syrian government forces. It claims that such an attack is an attempt to occupy the zone between al-Tanf and Albu Kamal at the Euphrates. Both operation would be planned diversions intended to draw Syrian forces away from Deraa and could provide excuses for U.S. intervention on the opposition side.

Late Sunday an airstrike destroyed a building in the Harri area near Albu Kamal directly on the Syrian-Iraqi border. The building was used as a headquarter for the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU) who are securing the border in coordination with the Syrian army in the fight against the Islamic State. More than 20 fighters were killed and more than 10 were wounded. This may have been in preparation for the reportedly planned large ISIS attack.

The strike makes otherwise little military sense. The PMU are nominally under command of the Iraqi government. They used a house on the Syrian side, some 200 meters from the border, as there was no adequate space on the Iraqi side. While they may have Iranian support and may help the Syrian army in some of its operations they are neither Iranian troops nor do they belong to the Lebanese Hezbullah.

The Syrian government accused the U.S. of having attacked the building. One U.S. source claims to CNN that the Israeli air-force attacked the site. I doubt that this is true. The U.S. has previously attacked Syrian government aligned forces in the area. It obviously continues to use ISIS to disrupt Syrian army operations. But as the U.S. needs Iraq it can not admit that it hit Iraqi forces. That would practically guarantee that the incoming Iraqi government would tell it to leave. It might have asked Israel to provide a cover for the strike.

Technically Israel could have done the attack. It would have needed tanker support and Jordanian compliance for overflight. Over the weekend Netanyahoo announced that Israel would hit Iranian forces all over Syria. But even CNN notes that the strike is untypical for Israel and does not make any sense.

Whoever committed the strike did so in an airspace that is controlled by the U.S. military. The leaders of the PMU in Iraq will use it to rally their forces against any U.S. bases in the country.

In north Syria Turkey is continuing its colonization of Syrian towns and regions. Turkish post offices, Turkish teachers, policemen and imans are pushing the population to adopt Turkish culture. It will more difficult to dislodge than the few thousand 'rebels' in the Deraa region.

Posted by b on June 19, 2018 at 02:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (102)

June 18, 2018

Counterdrug Programs Come With Increased Drug Production - Where Does The Money Go?

Two reports published today point to some curious phenomenon. Immensely expensive U.S. counter-narcotics efforts go along with massive increases in drug production.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report Counternarcotics: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan finds:

From fiscal year (FY) 2002 through FY 2017, the U.S. government spent roughly $8.62 billion on counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan.
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From 2002 to 2017, Afghan opium poppy cultivation soared.
In 2002, cultivation estimates ranged from 31,000 to 74,000 hectares, compared to 328,000 hectares in 2017. Opium production also rose to historic levels, from approximately 3,400 metric tons in 2002 to roughly 9,000 metric tons in 2017. No counterdrug program undertaken by the United States, its coalition partners, or the Afghan government resulted in lasting reductions in poppy cultivation or opium production.

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The Washington Post reports on the newly installed U.S. stooge in Colombia: A conservative ‘D.C. Colombian’ wins his country’s presidency":

BOGOTA, Colombia — Conservative Ivan Duque captured Colombia’s presidency Sunday, bringing to power a U.S.-educated 41-year-old whose victory promises an aggressive new era in the drug war and could upend a historic peace deal that ended Latin America’s longest running insurgency.
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Duque’s win could herald a return to more forceful tactics. The United States has spent $10 billion in two decades fighting coca growth here — only to find it higher now than at the launch of the campaign.

Since its creation the CIA was involved in drug production and trafficking. In many cases this appears to have been a 'side effect' of other operations like running the rightwing 'Contras' against a leftish government in Nicaragua. The contras needed money which drug smuggling provided. The CIA helped along to achieve the 'higher purpose' - the overthrow of the Nicaraguan government. I am not aware of any sound evidence that shows that the CIA reaped financial profits from drug dealing.

There is no such excuse for counternarcotics programs. There is no 'higher purpose' to be achieved. But the sums spent on these programs are so big now, and their effect so counterproductive, that one must assume that the money is not used as intended. Layers of contractors will be involved in crop eradication programs in Afghanistan and elsewhere. These may cost a few millions per year. But the effects are so minor that one can not imagine how several billions of dollars get spent on them.

I find no accounting for these programs. Where does all that money go? Who is profiting from these?

Posted by b on June 18, 2018 at 01:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (68)

June 17, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2018-29

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Patrick Cockburn calls the attack a deliberate act of cruelty by the Trump administration. But he, like others, still does not get the real dimension of the cruelty. The attack is not about Hodeidah. It is about blockading all food supplies to some 18 million people living in Sanaa and further north. An unprecedented siege on a large and defenseless population that is intended and guaranteed to cause a famine.

The U.S. and the UK blocked a Swedish resolution at the UN Security Council that called for an immediate ceasefire at Hodeidah.

LeFigaro reports that French special forces are on the ground in Yemen but the French claim that those are not at Hodeidah. There were also unconfirmed reports that France agreed to deploy minesweepers to clear the harbor of Hodeidah of potential mines. Two Houthi sources claimed today that they had caught French troops on a ship in Hodeidah. But information from the ground is unreliable. Both sides have made false claims about their progress and positions.

Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, reports that South Korea and the U.S. will soon announce the suspension of all major military exercises. This is, like North Korea's suspension of nuclear and missile testing, easily reversible.

Other issues:

The Nation: The Mueller Indictments Still Don’t Add Up to Collusion - A year of investigations has led to several guilty pleas, but none of them go to the core of the special counsel’s mandate. By Aaron Maté. This is the first piece in main stream media that points out that the St. Petersburg–based Internet Research Agency was a commercial marketing scheme and not a "Russian influence" operations. One wonders (or not) where Aaron Maté got that idea.

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b on June 17, 2018 at 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (111)

June 15, 2018

Jordan Shows Gratitude For Saudi Gift By Planting Fake News

Politicians like to manipulate news outlets for their purposes. Below is a nice little example of how this works.

Today the Saudi owned fish-wrap Al Arabiya tweeted this:

Al Arabiya English @AlArabiya_Eng - 11:12 AM - 15 Jun 2018
#Jordan withdraws ambassador from #Iran: Source tells Al Arabiya English: “There is no intention to name another Jordanian envoy in #Tehran at the time,” the source said.
https://ara.tv/n4ngn

That tweet made me curious. I was pretty sure that Jordan had withdrawn its ambassador from Iran quite a while ago. Indeed - on April 18 2016 several outlets had reported such: Jordan follows Riyadh's lead and recalls Iran ambassador

Abdullah Abu Rumman, Jordan's ambassador to Iran, has been recalled to Amman over Tehran's policies towards Arab countries, said Mohammed Momani, the government spokesperson.

An Iranian contact confirms to me that there has been no Jordanian ambassador in Iran since April 2016.

What happened?

The Al Arabiya link goes to a page with the URL:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/06/15/Jordan-withdraws-ambassador-from-Iran-Source-tells-Al-Arabiya.html

The original headline of the piece, visible in the URL, was "Jordan withdraws ambassador from Iran: Source tells Al Arabiya". It  has since been changed to:

Jordan won’t name an ambassador to Iran: Source tells Al Arabiya English

A high-ranking Jordanian source told Al Arabiya English on Friday that Jordan transferred its ambassador Abdullah Abu Rumman from Iran to the Jordanian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Amman based on a decision by the Jordanian cabinet.

“There is no intention to name another Jordanian envoy in Tehran at the time,” the source told Al Arabiya English.

Commenting on the decision’s circumstances, the source reiterated: “Jordan’s fixed position from Iranian policies which include interfering in the affairs of the region’s countries,” and voiced Jordan’s concern over “the security of the region’s countries particularly of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.”

“Saudi Arabia’s security is (part) of our security,” he said, adding: “We are concerned over our Arab and Gulf depth.”

In response to a question from Al Arabiya English, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi stressed that “the security and stability of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is part of the security and stability of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”.
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It seems to me that the "high-ranking Jordanian source", very likely the later quoted Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, scammed Al Arabiya. He used vague wording to insinuated that Jordan just now recalled its ambassador from Iran when that in fact had happened two years ago. It took a while for Al Arabiya to recognize that it had been had and to change its headline.

A week ago I wrote about how U.S.-Saudi Pressure On Jordan Opens The Way For Iran. Jordan is in economic and political trouble. It needs  financial sponsors. Saudi Arabia and the U.S., its traditional donors, are pressing for an Israel policy that the Jordan's King can not support. I speculated that this might give an opening for Iran.

But the Jordan king decided differently. He went to Saudi Arabia, met the Saudi King and received a nice package to help him over his budget difficulties. On June 10 Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait coughed up fresh money for Jordan:

Saudi Arabia and two Persian Gulf nations pledged $2.5 billion to help support Jordan’s economy after a proposed income-tax increase sparked some of the largest protests since the Arab Spring in 2011.

The package of aid will include a deposit in the Central Bank of Jordan, guarantees to the World Bank on Jordan and annual support for the Jordanian government’s budget for five years, according to a statement posted on the state-run Saudi Press Agency website.

Qatar is currently in a cold war with Saudi Arabia but it wants to stay in the traditional Gulf competition of collecting favors:

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan's royal court says Qatar's foreign minister has promised to invest $500 million in infrastructure projects in the kingdom and provide 10,000 jobs for Jordanians in his country.

The combination of the false Al Arabiya tweet and the recent shower of money for Jordan led some to speculate that the presumed "recall" of the ambassador from Iran was part of a deal.

Borzou Daragahi @borzou - 10:53 AM - 15 Jun 2018
Days after Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Kuwait hand Jordan $2.5 billion, Amman reportedly pulls its ambassador to Iran, says @AlArabiya, citing unnamed sources

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Aaron Magid @AaronMagid - 11:25 AM - 15 Jun 2018
Days after Jordan receives $2.5 billion from Saudi Arabia & Arab gulf countries, Amman withdraws its ambassador from Iran, reports @AlArabiya_

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Guy Elster @guyelster - 11:15 AM - 15 Jun 2018
#Jordan reportedly withdraws its ambassador from #Iran, probably under pressure from Saudi Arabia (maybe Israel also)

Daragahi, Magid and Elster are so called journalists who regularly write about the Middle East.

Jordan's foreign minister played this well. After his country received money from the Saudis it needed to publicly show gratitude. The foreign minister calls Al Arabiya and plants the "Jordan withdraws ambassador from Iran" myth by making the old news of the ambassador recall from Iran look like fresh action. Al Arabiya and various so called journalists fall for it and spread the news that Jordan indeed appreciates the Saudi gift and follows Saudi policy directives. In reality Jordan did nothing.

This was an excellent public relation maneuver. People with little knowledge of Middle Eastern politics or a short memory evidently fell for it.

To others it is another lecture on why one can not trust the 'news'.

Posted by b on June 15, 2018 at 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (42)

June 14, 2018

The Real Results Of The Trump-Kim Summit - Freeze For Freeze (And Some Amusement)

The aftermath of the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore confirms my early take on the talks. What both sides committed to is the "freeze for freeze" agreement North Korea had offered since at least 2015. The U.S. stops its threatening maneuvers while North Korea stops missile and nuke testing. Both sides further committed to future talks about a peace treaty in exchange for some nuclear disarmament

Under pressure from hawks the Trump administration tries to spin additional Korean concessions into the summit declaration. It claims that North Korea committed to "verifiable and irreversible" steps. It is a bad move as that is not the case. Only the written words count. "[T]he DPRK commits to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" is the binding wording.

In 1970 the U.S. committed itself to its own complete nuclear disarmament in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT):

Article VI - Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

Both statements are aspirational. "To work towards" and to "undertake to pursue negotiations" are both intentionally vague and of equal determination.

The real point of the Singapore summit was the "freeze for freeze" the U.S. and North Korea both committed to it.

After North Korea successfully tested a thermonuclear device and an intercontinental range missile the U.S. was no longer able to go to war against it without risking the destruction of a major U.S. city. It had to negotiate towards some new truce with North Korea that would reduce the risk of a nuclear conflict. Freeze for freeze is the first step towards that.

North Korea had economic reasons for seeking nuclear weapons. The cost of constant military preparedness against a potential U.S. attack was killing its economy:

Each time the U.S. and South Korea launch their very large maneuvers, the North Korean conscription army (1.2 million strong) has to go into a high state of defense readiness. Large maneuvers are a classic starting point for military attacks. The U.S.-South Korean maneuvers are (intentionally) held during the planting (April/May) or harvesting (August) season for rice when North Korea needs each and every hand in its few arable areas.
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Its nuclear deterrent allows North Korea to reduce its conventional military readiness especially during the all important agricultural seasons. Labor withheld from the fields and from elsewhere out of military necessity can go back to work. This is now the official North Korean policy known as 'byungjin'.

A guaranteed end of the yearly U.S. maneuvers would allow North Korea to lower its conventional defenses without relying on nukes. The link between the U.S. maneuvers and the nuclear deterrent North Korea is making in its repeated offer is a direct and logical connection.

Following this economic logic North Korea offered to freeze its nuclear development if the U.S. and South Korea freeze their large scale maneuvers. The Obama administration rejected the first offer in February 2015 and another one in April 2016. After that the Chinese government pushed the "freeze for freeze" concept. In early 2017 China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi explained:

To defuse the looming crisis on the peninsula, China proposes that, as a first step, the DPRK suspend its missile and nuclear activities in exchange for a halt of the large-scale US-ROK exercises. This suspension-for-suspension can help us break out of the security dilemma and bring the parties back to the negotiating table. Then we can follow the dual-track approach of denuclearizing the peninsula on the one hand and establishing a peace mechanism on the other. Only by addressing the parties' concerns in a synchronized and reciprocal manner, can we find a fundamental solution to lasting peace and stability on the peninsula.

When the Chinese President visited Trump in April 2017 he explained the whole concept. Trump understood and spoke of "tremendous progress". He had found a way to defuse the strategic problem of the North Korean bombs and missiles.

Secret negotiations were held with China and North Korea. In April Kim Jong-un froze all further testing. After some huffing and puffing the summit happened and the common declaration was signed. In his long press conference Trump explained the "freeze for freeze" parameters:

[T]he war games are very expensive, we pay for a big majority of them, we fly in bombers from Guam, ...

I know a lot about airplanes, it’s very expensive. And I didn’t like it. And what I — what I did say is — and I think it’s very provocative, I have to tell you, Jennifer, it’s a very provocative situation. When I see that, and you have a country right next door, so under the circumstances that we are negotiating a very comprehensive, complete deal, I think it’s inappropriate to be having war games.
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So we’re getting the remains back, secured the halt of all missile and nuclear tests for — how long has it been? Seven months? So you haven’t had a missile go up. For seven months, you haven’t had a nuclear test, you haven’t had a nuclear explosion.
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.. they secured a halt of all missiles and of all nuclear tests, they secured the closure of their single primary nuclear test flight — test site ...

There is the 'freeze for freeze' North Korea had offered and China promoted. The U.S. stops the large "strategic" maneuvers involving nuclear capable bombers flying from Guam, aircraft carriers and the like, while North Korea stops testing nukes and missiles. North Korea achieved its first aim. It can now lower its miliary posture and develop its economy.

The situation is still somewhat unstable as both freeze steps are reversible.

The 'freeze for freeze' is, as the Chinese Foreign Minister envisioned, a starting point for a long series of talks which may finally lead to a peace agreement and some nuclear disarmament. Now comes the "dual-track approach" of a peace agreement in exchange for some disarmament "in a synchronized and reciprocal manner". This will be a "step-by-step" process which will take years or even decades.

North Korea will stay under U.S. sanctions for now but the teeth of the "maximum pressure" sanctions have been broken. Other countries will be free to deal with North Korea. In his press conference Trump talked about that too:

In the meantime, the sanctions will remain in effect.
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The sanctions will come off when we are sure that the nukes are no longer a factor.
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President Xi of China, who has really closed up that border maybe a little less so over the last couple of months, but that’s okay.
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... And I think over the last two months, the border is more open than it was when we first started, but that is what it is, ...

Trump will keep the U.S. sanctions up but he is fine with China ignoring at least some of them. Trump no longer insists on "maximum pressure". Russia will also ease on sanctions as will South Korea.

The summit was successful in that it created the basis for further talks. Trump was smarter than Obama. Obama's rejection of the offered freeze allowed North Korea to complete its nuclear program. Obama could have prevented that. Trump agreed to the North Korean concept of "freeze for freeze". There was no other sensible way out of the security dilemma. Many further talks will follow and, if things go well, peace will finally come to Korea and the nuclear weapons will "no longer be a factor".

The summit was a good start. The Trump administration is doing itself no favor now in overselling it as the all encompassing deal.

South Korea's President Moon is also very happy with the results. It helped him to crush the hawkish opposition in yesterday's local and by-elections.

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Now for some amusement:

Don't miss this amazing piece of propaganda that was shown on North Korean TV. Supreme Leader Kim's triumphant voyage to Singapore where he strolls through the town before the acclaimed statesman converses with Donald Trump on an equal base. The video is narrated by the incomparable TV announcer Ri Chun Hee. A forty minutes long chorus of triumph and praise.

The people against this summit will be enraged by the triumphant video. At 23:35 Trump is seen saluting a DPRK general. An excellent gesture that created a great atmosphere. Kim Jong-un breaks into a smile after that. For anti-Trumpers it will be another reason to criticize the summit. But Trump salutes only after the general bowed his head and saluted him. This is really extraordinary. A nationwide North Korean TV broadcast of a leader of its armed forces saluting the U.S. president!

The video shows Kim traveling on a China Air Boeing 747-400 with a large Chinese flag on its side. North Korea has its own long range planes and could have made the trip on one of those. It is highly symbolic that Kim used a Chinese plane. It shows that it was China which  brought him there and back. The video prominently acknowledges that. (The plane is also larger than Trump's Boeing 747-200 which may have been an additional point.)

Additional amusing takes related to the summit: The summit scene they was cut from TV and the summit in Gangnam style.

This picture is also amusing. In 2003 North Korea called John Bolton "human scum" and "a bloodsucker". Before he became Trump's National Security Advisor Bolton supported a summit only because it would “foreshorten the amount of time that we’re gonna waste in negotiations.”

Bolton was wrong. The negotiations were quite successful. Kim Jong-un defeated him fair and square. Just look at the smile.


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Posted by b on June 14, 2018 at 02:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (92)

June 13, 2018

Yemen - The Starvation Siege Has Begun

Last night the Saudi coalition launched its attack on the city of Hodeidah in Yemen. Hodeidah is the only Yemeni harbor on the Red Sea coast that can take large vessels. It is ruled by the Houthi who in 2014 took over the capital Sanaa and disposed of the Saudi installed Hadi government. 90% of the food for the 18 million people living in Houthi controlled areas comes through Hodeidah.

Saudi-owned satellite news channels and later state media announced the battle had begun, citing military sources. They also reported coalition airstrikes and shelling by naval ships.

The initial battle plan appeared to involve a pincer movement. Some 2,000 troops who crossed the Red Sea from an Emirati naval base in the African nation of Eritrea landed west of the city with plans to seize Hodeida’s port, Yemeni security officials said.

Emirati forces with Yemeni troops moved in from the south near Hodeida’s airport, while others sought to cut off Houthi supply lines to the east, the officials said.

The port is now classified as a zone of active military conflict. Prolonged fighting may well destroy the port infrastructurer. Even if the Saudi coalition forces take and reopen it they will continue to block food supplies for the central highlands of Yemen. They want to starve the Houthis into submission.

The attack from the south includes 3,000 to 5,000 troops under the command of Tariq Sale, a cousin of the recently killed former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. They have been equipped with trucks and new weapons by the UAE. More forces are on their way from Aden and Taiz. They are supported by Emirati artillery, tanks and Saudi aerial bombing. The Saudi coalition forces are commanded by former officers from Australia, the U.S. and UK who have been hired by the UAE.

The New York Times editors do not want to understand the real problem with this attack:

A coalition led by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia is poised to attack the Red Sea port of Al Hudaydah, the home to 600,000 Yemenis and the lifeline for humanitarian aid that sustains most of the country’s people.
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Experts have predicted that 250,000 people could be killed or displaced in the offensive.

The NYT is in principle supporting the Saudi attack. It wants the Houthis removed. It follows the line of the Zionist lobby:

However, inaction at Hodeida carries steep costs.[...] If liberated, the port's capacity could quickly be expanded, especially if the liberation is achieved quickly and carefully. People in government-controlled areas are better off than people in Houthi-controlled areas precisely because they are reconnected to functioning ports and, partially, to the government payroll system. Thus, the people in Hodeida would benefit from being liberated.

The problem is not that 250,000 people could be displaced or even killed due to the fighting. The problem is not that the people of Hodeidah lacked food. Until today they received it through the harbor.

The problem is that the Saudis plan a starvation siege on all territory held by the Houthis and their aligned forces.

There are some eighteen million people living in those territories. Eight million of them are already on the border of starvation. The Saudis want to take Hodeidah to block food access for the people in Sanaa. If they succeed, or if the harbor infrastructure gets damaged by fighting, the eight million will probably die and another ten million will also be in imminent danger.

The Saudi media are not even shy about the intent. Liberating Hodeidah is a must for cutting the Houthi lifeline headlined the Arab News. Asharq Al-Awsat opined that the operations is necessary to "tighten the siege" until the Houthi "surrender to all conditions and resolutions", "hand over their arms" and "leave Sanaa".

The Yemeni lawyer Haykal Bafana points out that the Saudis used the same strategy in 1934 during a border conflict with the Imamate of Yemen. Back then the Saudis occupied Hodeidah and starved the population of Sanaa, the seat of the Imamate, until Yemen gave up. This is what they want to repeat:

The strategy is to land-lock the Houthis in the already air-blockaded capital Sanaa. In 1934, food scarcity in Sanaa ended the war. Same plan today: Starve the Houthi-controlled areas into military surrender. Ergo: Hodeidah will end the Yemen war.
Whether the starvation of Yemen & Yemenis proceeds depends entirely on what the Houthis decide – fight & starve, or surrender & eat. Houthi threat to shut down ALL Red Sea shipping? Only 1 result: ALL world powers will wage war on them & Yemen, and many, many Yemenis will die.
No one – not Saudi Arabia, UAE, US or the UK, and not even the United Nations – has announced alternative plans to deal with this Hodeidah port closure. But it is Yemen that is lawless, some say.
No matter how much you all hate the Houthis, to starve #Yemen's civilians is a war crime. Starvation of Yemenis as a war strategy is illegal.

This obvious Saudi strategy is the reason why the United Nations warned of the possible starving of up to 18 million people who depend on food transfers through Hodeidah. The International Committee of the Red Cross warns that a push for Hodeida will exacerbate catastrophic humanitarian situation. The Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) is a U.S. government organization. It warns:

In a worst-case scenario, significant declines in commercial imports below requirement levels and conflict that cuts populations off from trade and humanitarian assistance for an extended period could drive food security outcomes in line with Famine.

In the fighting today the UAE supported forces claimed to have reached the southern outskirts of the airport of Hodeidah. They will probably try to hook east around the city to isolate and besiege it. The area is mostly flat and difficult to defend against a force with air support and heavy artillery. There is little hope that the Houthi can hold on to it.


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But the Houthis will continue to fight. If they give up on Hodeidah they will have lost the war. Today they claimed to have fired another ballistic missile into Saudi Arabia. They also said that they successfully attacked a UAE navy ship with a landing force. The Saudis said that they intercepted the missile. There is no confirmation for the ship attack.

The Saudis and Emirates have the active support of Britain and the United States. The attack on Hodeidah, the siege on all Houthi controlled territory and the coming famine can still stopped. Britain and the U.S., the Saudis and the Emirates are on the verge of committing a war crime that will exceed the war on Iraq by any measure.

The attack must stop and the blockade must be lifted. It is either now or it will be too late to prevent the siege of Yemen and a very large famine.

Posted by b on June 13, 2018 at 02:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (126)

June 12, 2018

First Thoughts On The Kim Trump Photo-Op Summit

The photo-op summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea went well. The visuals show North Korea and the United States as equal partners.


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The atmosphere was cordial.


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Both sides won.


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The signed document is short. The core part:

Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:
  1. The United States and the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
  2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
  3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
  4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Both sides commit to implement the above "fully and expeditiously". Further talks will be held at the Foreign Minister/Secretary of State level.

This is not a deal, just a declaration. The 'denuclearization' commitment by the DPRK is aspirational. There is no equal commitment from the U.S. side. There is no time frame. As predicted the DPRK will not give up its nukes. It had good reasons to build them and the same reasons will let it keep them.

As long as talks are ongoing the DPRK will likely hold off on further nuclear and long range missile tests. The U.S. will likely stop large scale maneuvers in and around Korea. This is the 'freeze for freeze' which North Korea long wanted and which China and Russia actively supported.

Further talks between the U.S. and North Korea will be slow walked and may not lead to significant progress in nuclear disarmament. Their main purpose is to hold off the U.S. while the real talks that between North and South Korea continue. This is what the "efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula" are really about.

It is disappointing that the terrible human rights record of the United States was not mentioned during the talks.

The North Korean side played its cards exceptionally well. It built its capabilities under enormous pressure and used it to elevate the country to a real player on the international stage. The "maximum pressure" sanction campaign against it is now defused. China, Russia and South Korea will again trade with North Korea.

In pressing for an early summit Trump defused a conflict that otherwise might have ruined his presidency.

The losers, for now, are the hawks in Japan, South Korea and Washington who tried their best to prevent this to happen. The winners are the people of Korea, Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. Special prizes go to President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and to Dennis Rodman who did their best to make this happen.

Posted by b on June 12, 2018 at 04:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (182)

June 11, 2018

Yemen - U.S. Grants Approval For Genocide

The genocide in Yemen is going to start tomorrow. Eight million are already on the brink of starvation. Eighteen out of twenty-six million Yemenis live in the mountainous heartlands (green) which are under control of the Houthi and their allies. They are surrounded by Saudi and U.A.E. forces and their mercenaries. There is little agriculture. The only supply line from the outside world will soon be cut off. The people will starve.


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Even before the war Yemen imported 90% of its staple food. Three years of Saudi/UAE bombing have destroyed local infrastructure and production. The ongoing war has already caused mass starvation and the outbreak of a large cholera epidemic. The Yemeni coast is under blockade by Saudi and U.S. naval forces. The only supplies coming in are UN and commercial deliveries through the Red Sea Hodeidah port (Al Hudaydah on the map).


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The United Arab Emirates is leading local mercenaries and Islamist gangs against the Houthi and their allies. During the last months these forces moved from the south along the coast up to Hodeidah. The fighting is fierce:

Heavy fighting in Yemen between pro-government forces and Shiite rebels has killed more than 600 people on both sides in recent days, security officials said Monday.

Tomorrow, when the media will be busy with the Kim-Trump photo-op summit, the UAE forces will launch their attack on the city.

The UN, which oversees the aid distribution through Hodeidah, tried to negotiate between the parties:

The U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, traveled to the U.A.E. capital over the weekend in an effort to forestall an attack. Mr. Griffiths had secured an agreement with Houthi rebels who control Hodeidah to allow the U.N. to operate the port jointly, the people said. But people briefed on the discussions said they doubted the U.A.E. would accept the offer or delay the planned assault.

The briefed people were right. The UN is now evacuating its staff:

The United Nations was withdrawing its staff on Monday from the besieged Yemeni port city of Al Hudaydah, after member countries were told that an attack by forces led by the United Arab Emirates was imminent, according to two diplomats briefed on the matter.
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The International Committee for the Red Cross removed its staff from the city over the weekend.
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Diplomats in the region say they believe that only more pressure from Washington will stop the planned assault.

The U.S., through its Secretary of State Pompeo, just gave a green light to the UAE to launch its attack:

The United States is closely following developments in Hudaydah, Yemen. I have spoken with Emirati leaders and made clear our desire to address their security concerns while preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and life-saving commercial imports. We expect all parties to honor their commitments to work with the UN Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Yemen on this issue, support a political process to resolve this conflict, ensure humanitarian access to the Yemeni people, and map a stable political future for Yemen.

Neither the Emirates nor the Saudis have any interest in letting humanitarian aid flow. They are absolutely ruthless. Earlier today they bombed a Cholera treatment center run by Doctors Without Borders:

MSF Yemen @msf_yemen - 10:29 UTC - 11 Jun 2018
"This morning´s attack on an @MSF cholera treatment centre in Abs by the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition shows complete disrespect for medical facilities and patients. Whether intentional or a result of negligence, it is totally unacceptable."

Last week the Saudis intentionally bombed facilities of the Norwegian Refugee Council in Sanaa:

NRC has provided all relevant parties to the conflict, including the Saudi-led Coalition, with details and coordinates on our operations in order to ensure the safety of our staff.

Hodeidah, with 600,000 regular inhabitants and hundred thousands of refugees, will be difficult to conquer. No supplies will flow through the port while the fight is ongoing. Should the UAE forces be able to take the port they are unlikely to allow aid to pass towards the Houthi controlled areas. There will be a huge famine, hundred thousands if not millions will die.

It would be easy for the Trump administration to stop the UAE attack. U.S. special forces are on the ground in Yemen working closely with UAE forces. U.S. planes are refueling the Saudi and UAE bombers. U.S. intelligence is used in the targeting process. The U.S. supplies the bombs. Without U.S. air-to-air refueling there would be no air-support for the UAE fighters on the ground. They would be unable to launch their attack.

From its very beginning the Trump administration has been extremely close (long read) with the Israeli, Emirati and Saudi rulers. Their common aim is to counter Iran. But Iran is hardly involved in Yemen:

Claims of Iran’s influence over the Houthis have been overblown. While the Houthis do receive some support from Iran, it is mostly political, with minimal financial and military assistance. However, since the Houthis took control of Sanaa, the group has increasingly been portrayed as “Iran-backed” or “Shia,” often suggesting a sectarian relationship with the Islamic Republic. Yet until after the 2011 upheavals, the term “Shia” was not used in the Yemeni public to refer to any Yemeni groups or individuals. The Houthis do not follow the Twelver Shia tradition predominant in Iran, but adhere to the Zaidiya, which in practice is closer to Sunni Islam, and had expressed no solidarity with other Shia communities.

The Saudis see the Zaidiya as an impediment of their influence in Yemen. They want to control the Yemeni government. The Emirates want to control the port of Aden and Yemen's the oil and gas loading facilities. The Obama administration supported the Saudi onslaught on Yemen to buy Saudi acquiescence with the nuclear deal with Iran. The Trump administration supports the Saudi/UAE war out of lack of knowledge. It has fallen for the Iran myth. It also wants to sell more weapons.

Millions of kids and grown ups will have to pay for this with their lives.

Posted by b on June 11, 2018 at 02:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (76)

June 10, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2018-28

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Trump is in Singapore to meet Kim Jong-un. Bolton will take part in the meeting. That is bad because it makes it more likely that it will fail. Bolton is on the record saying that he wants to 'get over' the negotiation phase as fast as possible to then escalate into war.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) pulled out 71 of its foreign staff in Yemen after one was assassinated. It still has local staff on the ground but the ICRC is usually respected by both sides of a conflict and is used to work under the worst circumstances. Presumably it was the Saudi side that tried to instrumentalize the ICRC and killed one of its employees when the ICRC did not agree.

SaadAbedine @SaadAbedine - 16:21 UTC - 9 Jun 2018
King Abdullah II @KingAbdullahII and Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah @AlHusseinHKJ of Jordan will participate in the Mecca meeting called by #Saudi King Salman @KingSalman with leaders of the #UAE & #Kuwait to discuss economic aid #Jordan in the face of the economic crisis.

There will be strong pressure on Abdullah to agree to the Trump/Kushner/MbS/MbZ Israel plan. Al-Aqsa would be lost. 70% of the people in Jordan are Palestinians. I do not see how Abdullah can agree to the plan without losing everything.

Interestingly the new prime minister of Jordan, Omar al-Razzaz, once worked at the World Bank where his main projects were development programs in Iran. I wonder if he speaks Farsi ...

The Islamic State was pushed back from Abu Kamal but renewed its attack early today. The spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Defense points out that all remaining ISIS zones in Syria are in US-controlled territory.

Journalist Hala Jaber interviewed the Syrian President Bashar al Assad for the British Daily Mail. SANA provides a full transcript and a six minute video. The Daily Mail write up: I use chemicals? Prove it! Syrian President Assad brands gas attacks 'fake news' and calls Theresa May a 'colonialist and a liar' in astonishing face to face interview

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On May 14 we wrote about the election in Iraq: The 'Kingmaker' Is Back - Muqtada Al-Sadr Wins The Election In Iraq. Observers agreed that the elections went quite well. Since then the political situation deteriorated. In several areas the electronic vote count was manipulated. The election commission decided to do a manual recount. All ballot boxes were brought to Baghdad and stored in a warehouse. Today the warehouse burned down:

Abdulla Hawez @abdullahawez - 14:19 UTC- 10 Jun 2018
- The guy filming asks the security guard: "how many of the ballots lost in the fire?"
- The security guard all smiling: "all of them were lost".
vid

Yesterday Elijah Magnier took a peak behind the scene. A weak and divided Iraq is stumbling towards an unbalanced future

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b on June 10, 2018 at 10:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (42)

June 09, 2018

The 'West' Is Past

G-7 summits are supposed to symbolize "the west", its unity and its power. The summits pretended to set policy directions for the world.

We are happy to see that they are dead.


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I do not know who made this pic.

It is a modification of a photo by German chancellor Merkel's staff photographer Jesco Denzel that was uploaded to her Instagram account:


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Is that supposed to make her look good? Is it not similar to this scene?

Another picture of that moment shows the various heads of states redacting some common statement and discussing its formulations.


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Trump rejected the summit communiqué:

The American side objected to including the phrase “rules-based international order,” even though it is boilerplate for such statements, according to two people briefed on the deliberations. The Europeans and Canadians were pushing back, but it remained unclear whether the Trump administration would ultimately sign the statement or be left on its own.

Trump was obviously not inclined to compromise. He did  not sign. There are no 'rules' for him. Not even the ones the U.S. itself once wrote.

Before attending the summit Trump trolled his colleagues by inviting Russia to rejoin the G-7/G-8 format without conditions. Russia had been kicked out after Crimea voted to join its motherland. Merkel, who had negotiated the Minsk agreement with Russia, was furious. She wants to use such an invitation as an element of future negotiations. (It is stupid attempt. Russia is not interested in rejoining the G-7/G-8 format.)

There are now many fields where the U.S. and its allies disagree: climate change, the Iran deal, trade are only the major ones.

Before leaving the summit Trump again used Mafia language against everyone else:

As he prepared to depart early from the G-7 summit in Charlevoix, Canada, to head to Singapore ahead of his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump delivered an ultimatum to foreign leaders, demanding that their countries reduce trade barriers for the U.S. or risk losing market access to the world's largest economy.

"They have no choice. I'll be honest with you, they have no choice," Trump told reporters at a news conference, adding that companies and jobs had left the U.S. to escape trade barriers abroad. "We're going to fix that situation. And if it's not fixed, then we're not going to deal with these countries."

The row at the G-7 meeting was in stark contrast to the more important other meeting that happened today, the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China:

Dazzling against the city skyline of Qingdao, fireworks lit up the faces of guests who traveled across the vast Eurasian continent to the coast of the Yellow Sea for the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, on Saturday night.

It is the first such summit since the organization's expansion in June 2017 when India and Pakistan joined as full members.
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The Shanghai Spirit of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of common development, was stated in the Charter of the SCO, a comprehensive regional organization founded in 2001 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and later expanded to eight member states.

This weekend Xi will chair the summit for the first time as Chinese president, which is attended by leaders of other SCO member states and four observer states, as well as chiefs of various international organizations.
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The SCO has grown to be an organization covering over 60 percent of the Eurasian landmass, nearly half the world's population and over 20 percent of global GDP.

Two U.S. 'realists', Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, had always warned that the 'west' must keep China and Russia apart if it wants to keep its leading global position. Nixon went to China to achieve that.

Years later the U.S. fell for the myth that it had 'won' the Cold War. It felt invincible, the 'sole superpower' and sought to 'rule them all'. It woke up from that dream after it invaded Iraq. The mighty U.S. military was beaten to pulp by the 'sand niggers' it despised. A few years later U.S. financial markets were in shambles.

Crude attempts to further encircle Russia led to the Chinese-Russian alliance that now leads the SCO and soon, one might argue, the world. There will be no photo like the above from the SCO summit. The Chinese President Xi calls Russia's President Putin 'my best friend'.

The 'west' has lost in Eurasia.

The U.S. is reduced to a schoolyard bully who beats up his gang members because their former victims have grown too big.

Trump is off to Singapore to meet Kim Yong-un. Unlike Trump North Korea's supreme leader will be well prepared. It is likely that he will run rings around Trump during the negotiations. If Trump tries to bully him like he bullies his 'allies', Kim will pack up and leave. Unlike the U.S. 'allies' he has no need to bow to Trump. China and Russia have his back. They are now the powers that can lead the world.

The 'west' is past. The future is in the east.

Posted by b on June 9, 2018 at 03:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (113)

June 08, 2018

Syria - Is The ISIS Attack On Abu Kamal Part Of A U.S. Plan?

The people in Syria and Iraq believe that the Islamic State (ISIS) is an instrument the U.S. uses for its own purposes. A new ISIS attack on Syrian government forces today will deepen these beliefs.

Since November 2017 the U.S. and its proxy forces in north-east Syria did absolutely nothing against ISIS in east Syria north of the Euphrates. U.S. air strike were stopped and ISIS's territorial hold did not change one bit.

In February local tribal forces aligned with the Syrian government crossed the Euphrates from south to north in order to attack the ISIS pocket and to take control of an oilfield. The U.S. claimed that its Kurdish SDF proxy forces were attacked by the Syrian government aligned group. Curiously no one on the side of the U.S. and its proxies was hurt at all. Soon a large number of U.S. air support assets arrived and bombed the Syrian group to smithereens. 

ISIS in the northeastern pocket is the justification for the continuing U.S. occupation. But when Syrian government forces attacked those ISIS forces the U.S. claimed that only its forces were there. On June 6, six months after the U.S. had stopped attacking ISIS,  U.S. Secretary of Defense Mattis finally announced that U.S. proxies forces had again taken up the fight:

48 hours ago, the SDF, the coalition force and -- advising the Syrian Democratic Force, recommenced their offensive against one of the last remaining pockets of ISIS.

There have been no reports yet of these new attacks against ISIS.

According to Mattis the offense re-started on June 4. Just the night before the restart of the U.S. operation several hundred well rested ISIS fighters crossed the Euphrates towards the south and attacked the Syrian government forces on the southern side.


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They shortly interrupted traffic on the road between Deir Ezzor city and Abu Kamal on the Syria-Iraq border and then hid away in some local farms.

Last night these forces reemerged, moved southeast and attacked the border city Abu Kamal:

ISIS used at least 10 suicide bombers on Friday in a massive attack on Albu Kamal, in which they retook parts of the eastern Syrian town, a monitor said.

At least 25 government and allied fighters were killed in the offensive, the militant group’s largest in months, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The border crossing between Abu Kamal in Syria and its sister city Al Qaim in Iraq is the only open road connection between the government held parts of Syria and Iraq.


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The other main crossing further southwest is al-Tanf which is illegally occupied by U.S. forces.

There is sneaking suspicion that the U.S. directed the ongoing ISIS attack on Abu Kamal to gain control over the crossing and to disable road supplies from Iran through Iraq into Syria. Such suspicion is reinforced when U.S. military analysts openly muse about the new possibilities the ISIS move creates:

Nicholas A Heras @NicholasAHeras - 16:35 UTC - 8 Jun 2018
If the #Assad Alliance loses #AlbuKamal near the #Syrian / #Iraqi border to #ISIS will #CJTFOIR working with the #SDF try to take it? The US zone in E #Syria could spread by osmosis, but does #Trump want that when he's trying to get out of and not deeper in Syria? 🤔 #Daesh #Iran

ISIS crosses the Euphrates and takes Abu Kamal. The U.S. then 'attacks ISIS' in Abu Kamal and takes over the border town. It would thereby hold both main road crossings between the government held parts of Syria and Iraq. The much feared "Iranian corridor" from Tehran to Beirut would be interrupted. Syria's economic exchange with Iraq would continue to be hampered. The U.S. would gain 'leverage' for further 'regime change' negotiations.

That sounds like a plan.

The U.S. must be given no chance to use the ISIS pretext to take Abu Kamal. The Syrian government must rush to support its forces in the border city. It must immediately request that Iraqi forces cross the border from Al-Qaim and support the endangered Syrian troops.

A loss of the crossing would be catastrophic and prolong the ongoing war.

Posted by b on June 8, 2018 at 02:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (40)

June 07, 2018

U.S.-Saudi Pressure On Jordan Opens The Way For Iran

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has traditionally been in the 'western' camp. It is politically attached to the United Kingdom and the United States as well as to Saudi Arabia and other Sunni majority Gulf states. The Jordanian King Abdullah II has in the past been hostile to Iran. He was to first to publicly stoke fear of a 'Shia crescent'.  But the new Saudi and U.S. plans for 'peace' with Israel are a threat to Jordan and to King Abdullah's personal legitimacy. He needs to change his position. Provided with the right incentives Jordan could, eventually, join the 'resistance' side with Iran, Syria and Hizbullah.

The country ruled by King Abdullah has nearly ten million inhabitants but is relatively poor. It has few natural resources. The generally well educated population attracted some foreign investment in its industry. Many Jordanians work abroad and send remittances. But all that is not enough. The country needs foreign subsidies to keep its standard of living.

The King of Saudi Arabia derives legitimacy from his title as "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques" in Mecca and Medina. The King of Jordan springs from the thousand year old great Hashemite dynasty. He heads the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf (Foundation) and is the custodian of the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock. This responsibility is the only prominent function left for the Hashemite family. It is the source of King Abdullah's legitimacy.

The changes in Saudi Arabia's policy towards Israel and the Zionist 'peace plan' the Trump administration develops create a new situation for Jordan. It is put under immense economic pressure to agree to these plans.

Jordan took part in the war on Syria. While Turkey provided support for the "rebels" attacking Syria from the north Jordan played a similar role in the south. Weapon and ammunition supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar were shipped through Jordan and smuggled into Syria. The country welcomed the families of the 'rebels' as refugees and provided medical support. The "southern operation room" of the 'rebels', run by the CIA, was hosted in Jordan's capital Amman.


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The war interrupted the important and lucrative transportation line from Turkey through Syria and Jordan to the Gulf countries. The refugees were a burden. The once flourishing tourist business fell back. Like most other countries Jordan had expected a short war leading to 'regime change' in Syria within a few months. But now, seven years later, the war on Syria is a major problem for Jordan. The one million refugees from Syria led to an increase in rents while wages went down. About 20% of the working population is without a job. The war needs to end.

Jordan receives some $1.2 billion per year in military and economic aid from the United States. In earlier years it additionally received $1 to 2 billions from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States. That still was not enough to compensate for the burden of the war. Since 2011 Jordan's public debt increased from 70% to 95% of its GDP. Its budget deficit this year will likely top $1 billion.

This year Saudi Arabia held back. It gave no money for Jordan. With Trump ruling in Washington the U.S. payments are in doubt. Jordan took out a $723 million IMF loan but it came with strings attached. The IMF demands austerity from the Jordan state. Since the beginning of this year taxes on basic food staples increased by 50 to 100 percent. There were five increases of fuel prices. Electricity and water prices were also hiked. All that was not enough. Since last year the Prime Minister of Jordan worked on a new income tax law which would double the number of people who have to pay income tax. It would also introduce harsh measures against tax evaders.

Since May 30 Jordan has seen daily protests, seemingly over rising costs of living and the new income tax law. The protests were led by 33 trade unions who called for a general strike. The call for a strike was followed by many and the protests attracted quite large crowds. They demanded the resignation of the Prime Minister and an end of the income tax plans. Such protests are not especially extraordinary. The usual solution for such a situation is known.

After a few days of protests King Abdullah fired Prime Minister Hani Mulki who had insisted on the tax law. Usually that would have been enough. The people would go home, the law in question would be tweaked or abolished and the government would muddle through.

But not this time. The demonstrations continue. They now include chants against the monarchy. This is unusual. Very unusual.

The economic situation and the income tax law may not be the only explanation for this civil strife. There are rumors that the Saudis, or the CIA, are behind them.

On May 18 the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held an extraordinary summit in Turkey to protest against Israel's atrocities in Palestine and Trump's plans for Jerusalem. Many heads of states took part including the President of Iran and the Emir of Qatar. Saudi Arabia and its Emirate ally sent only lower level delegations. The Jordan King had been asked (machine transl.) not to attend the summit. He went anyway:

King Abdullah of Jordan told the Istanbul summit that he rejected any attempt to change the status quo of Jerusalem and its holy sites.

That comment went against the U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. It went against the Saudi-U.S. 'peace plan' which will hand Jerusalem to the Zionists. But even more important from a Saudi point of view was this picture.


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King Abdullah not only shook hands with Iran's President Rohani but the two also held the first top level talks between Jordan and Iran in 15 years:

The Iranian and Jordanian heads of state have reportedly held a brief meeting on the sidelines of an special summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Turkey.
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King Abdullah II is a pro-Western monarch but Amman’s ties with the US and Saudi Arabia have recently been shaken over the issue of Palestine.

Riyadh’s reported coziness to Israel has worried Jordan which is in charge of the major Muslim shrine complex on the Temple Mount, the al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Trump administration and the Saudi Clown Prince Muhammad bin Salman want Jordan to agree to their 'peace plan' with Israel. The Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem would come under Israeli control and would be endangered. Jewish fanatics plan to build a 'third Jewish temple' over the Al-Aqsa mosque. (There is no proof that a first or second temple was ever there.)  Any such agreement thus threatens the legitimacy of the Hashemite King.

The lack of financial support from Saudi Arabia and the unusual demonstrations in Jordan are supposed to put pressure on King Abdullah. The Saudis and the U.S. want him to submit under the dirty deal they made with the Zionists. If Abdullah does not go along with the Saudi/U.S. plans he will have to leave. If he goes along he will lose his legitimacy.

There is one alternative. King Abdullah could change sides. He can ask Iran (or Qatar? Or maybe even Russia?) for financial support. A few billions will do. They could come in the form of industrial investments. In exchange for such economic support he would have to commit to the 'resistance' side. He would have to stop his support for the war on Syria. He would have to lower his relations with Saudi Arabia and take a stronger position against Israel.

But Saudi Arabia is still a neighbor of Jordan and rich. Many Jordanians work there. The U.S. protects Jordan from Israel. It is thus unlikely that Abdullah would openly take such a big step towards Iran. But there are probably ways and means to slowly move into a more neutral position.

Wherever the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have started conflicts and wars - in Iraq, Lebanon, Qatar, Yemen and Syria - Iran has won. The Saudi pressure on Jordan might have a similar effect.

Posted by b on June 7, 2018 at 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (68)

June 06, 2018

Yemen - The Attack On Hodeidah Is A Prelude To Genocide

Yemen is on the verge of another catastrophic event. The Saudi and United Arab Emirates plan to take the Red Sea port Hodeidah through which most of the food supplies to Yemen's come in.

The port is already under blockade and all ships are strictly controlled. Saudi 'inspections' of ships already taking so long that some food rots before it can reach land. The UN is complaining that there is too little food is coming through:

Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, with some 8.4 million people severely short of food and at risk of starvation.
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“I am particularly concerned about the recent decline of commercial food imports through the Red Sea ports,” Mark Lowcock, U.N. emergency relief coordinator, said in a statement read out to a Geneva briefing on Friday.
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“If conditions do not improve, a further 10 million people will fall into this category by the end of the year,” he said.

Eighteen out of twenty-six million Yemenis may soon die of hunger. If that happens it will be a genocide.

The UN has warned that any fighting over the port will have extreme consequences. Eighteen million people will probably starve if the port is blocked or the roads from the port into the hinterland get destroyed due to fighting.

For three years the Saudi and UAE forces have tried to dislodge the Houthi movement from the Yemeni heartland and the capital Sanaa. The Saudis managed to take the flat desert areas in the east and the UAE took the southern coast but all their attempts to move into the mountainous western core of Yemen have failed. The Saudi and UAE forces on the ground are by now mostly local mercenaries from the south reinforced by a few tank and artillery troops from the UAE.


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The cities and towns in the north where the Houthi originally lived were all destroyed by Saudi air attacks. They have no where to go and nothing left to loose. They will not give up.

The attack on Hodeidah comes after months of fighting from south Yemen along the southeastern coast and the Emirate supported troops (blue arrow) are now only 20 kilometers away from Hodeidah.


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Over the weekend the UN envoy Martin Griffiths tried to convince the Houthi to hand over Hodeidah port to the United Nations. But how would the UN run the port? Who would rule the city? How would supplies from Hodeidah port cross the front lines to reach the capital Sanaa?

The Saudi and Emirates aim is simply to starve Yemen into submission. They do not care how many people will die. They do not care what the UN says:

Gulf government officials familiar with UAE and Saudi thinking have said capturing the coast would block Houthi supply lines and push the group to the negotiating table.

Riyadh says the Houthis use Hodeidah to smuggle Iranian-made arms into Yemen, accusations denied by the group and Tehran.

The United Nations has beefed up its inspections of ships bringing humanitarian aid to ensure that no military items are being smuggled and to speed delivery of desperately-needed relief supplies.

All talk about Iran in Yemen or of Iranian supplies is nonsense. The Saudis and Emirates control the borders. The ports are under Saudi blockade and tightly controlled. Only a trickle of supplies is smuggled from Oman through their lines. Most of the weapons and ammunition the Houthi use are captured through raids on Saudi troops.

The UAE asked the U.S. to support its operation against Hodeidah with boots on the ground. The U.S. is already coordinating the intelligence for the Saudi/UAE Yemen operation and is providing the ammunition as well as the aerial refueling for the daily bombing runs.

Officially the U.S. will not take part in the operations. Officially the UAE will not attack the city. But that is just obfuscation. The Yemen mercenaries the UAE has hired will take the lead but the UAE and U.S. will be right behind them:

Emirati ground forces are about nine miles from Hodeida, and the UAE government told U.S. officials that they will not move forward. At the same time, however, the UAE says it has no control over the Yemeni government forces that it has trained and assisted.

Today Saudi planes dropped leaflets on the city inciting against the Houthi and asking the population to leave. Hodeidah normally has 600,000 inhabitants. But due to the three years of war many people fled from the rural areas which were bombed and lacked food supplies and moved into the cities. Hodeidah is believed to host more than a million people now who have nowhere else to go.

Today the Houthi managed to delay the operation against Hodeidah. They attacked the thin supply line of the attackers and managed to breach it.


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It is doubtful that the Houthi can hold that point or even destroy those enemy troops they cut off from their supplies. Saudi air attacks will  soon dislodge them again and the attack on Hodeidah will proceed.

The consequences will be terrible for the people of Yemen. None of the usually 'concerned' entities seems to be willing or able to prevent that.

Posted by b on June 6, 2018 at 02:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (66)

June 05, 2018

John Bolton Wants No Deal With North Korea Or Iran - But Is There Any Other Choice?

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton nearly succeeded in sabotaging talks with North Korea. But the summit train is back on its tracks. Trump will meet Kin Jong-un on on June 12 in Singapore. The South Korean President Moon rescued the situation. Secretary of State Pompeo helped.

Pompeo managed to keep Bolton away from the negotiations with North Korea. Bolton's attempt to derail talks with North Korea by citing the "Libya model" failed. But Bolton will be back. He will try to torpedo any agreement with 'hostile' countries - be it North Korea or Iran. He is now building up his power for the upcoming bigger fight.

When the North Korean envoy Kim visited the Oval Office to hand an oversized letter to Trump John Bolton was not present:

Pompeo told Trump it would be "counterproductive" to allow Bolton to attend the Oval Office meeting with visiting North Korean official Kim Yong Chol, two people familiar with the matter said, citing an escalating feud between the top diplomat and Bolton.
A big letter

A bigger letter :-)

Pompeo can take credit for moving Trump away from his demand of immediate and complete de-nuclearization of North Korea. It is obviously unachievable. Any move towards disarmament will have to be reciprocal and step by step. Completely dismantling North Korea's nuclear program, which is unlikely to ever happen, would anyway take ten to fifteen years (pdf).

North Korea has already shown that it is willing to seriously negotiate. It has thereby gained fresh backing from its allies. The sanction regime is already breaking down. Air China is again flying to Pyongyang. North Korean coal is again delivered to Chinese ports and oil comes in from Russia. China as well as Russia have called for a phased approach. Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov emphasized that during his recent visit to North Korea:

“This cannot be achieved at one go”, [Lavrov] added. “There can be no immediate denuclearisation, this should be done step by step and all sides should go half-way during every single phase of this process”.

Trump will have to follow that reasonable advice. Otherwise no agreement will be found and the sanction regime against North Korea will break down. Trump would be back at square one but without international support for further action.


North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un is cleaning his house. He replaced three of the highest military with younger people according to the South Korea's Yonhap news agency:

No Kwang-chol, first vice minister of the Ministry of People's Armed Forces, replaced Pak Yong-sik as defense chief, while Ri Myong-su, chief of the KPA's general staff, was replaced by his deputy, Ri Yong-gil, according to the source. These changes are in addition to Army Gen. Kim Su-gil's replacement of Kim Jong-gak as director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army.

Such announcements by South Korean media must be taken with some salt. In February 2016 South Korean officials and media had claimed that Ri Yong-gil, the new chief of staff, had been executed for corruption:

Ri [Yong-gil] appears to be one of the most senior officials executed to date, according to a U.S. defense official. The official said the execution continues a brutal consolidation of power by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The 'brutally consolidated' younger generals will presumably be more loyal to Kim Jong-un than the old guard. The move will give him more flexibility in the upcoming negotiations without risking trouble at home.


Bolton may not be able to derail talks with North Korea as long as Pompeo is protecting those. But the real talks and processes will only start after the Donald Trump - Kim Jong-un summit in Singapore. They will be detailed and will take a long time. Bolton will continue his attempts to derail any agreement by inserting some demand with which North Korea is unable to agree. That is at least what he did the last time when such talks were held and then failed. It is likely that Bolton will again succeed.

The most useless Democrat, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, will help Bolton to achieve his aim. Schumer wrote to President Trump and set out requirements for lifting sanctions on North Korea that are impossible to achieve:

The letter presented five conditions for North Korea:
  • Dismantle and remove all of its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
  • End the production and enrichment of uranium and plutonium for military purposes, and permanently dismantle its nuclear weapons infrastructure. This includes destroying all test sites, nuclear weapons research and development facilities and enrichment facilities.
  • Suspend all ballistic missile tests and disable, dismantle and eliminate all of its ballistic missiles and programs.
  • Commit to robust compliance inspections including a verification regime for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs—and chemical and biological weapons. The regimes must include “anywhere, anytime” inspections and snap-back sanctions if North Korea is not in full compliance.
  • Agree that any deal must be permanent.

That letter could have been written by Japan's revanchist Prime Minster Abe or by John Bolton himself (which may indeed have been the case). The Democrats would rather see a failure of peace and disarmament talks than allow Trump to succeed with them.

Meanwhile John Bolton added two of his loyalists to the NSC. Sarah Tinsley and Garrett Marquis will be responsible for 'strategic communication', i.e for spreading rumors and disinformation:

Before joining the administration, Tinsley worked at the John Bolton political action committee and the Bolton-run nonprofit, the Foundation for American Security and Freedom. Marquis formerly worked as a managing partner at the public affairs firm Prism Group, but was known in Washington as Bolton's spokesman.

An even more important hire is the islamophobe Fred Fleitz as chief of staff for the NSC:

Fleitz has worked for before as Bolton's chief of staff in the State Department under President George W. Bush.

Bolton is consolidating his position and surely has plans to use it.

His main target is not North Korea but Iran. We can expect an onslaught of fake 'intelligence' claiming that Iran is building THE BOMB here, there and anywhere. Pompeo and Trump himself will join him in that campaign.

When Trump ended the nuclear agreement with Iran the Europeans declared that they would stick to it. U.S. sanction would not deter them from upholding their part. But the French oil company Total stopped its operations in Iran and yesterday the French car maker PSA announced that it would end its cooperation with Iran's main auto maker Khodro:

Last year PSA sold nearly 445,000 vehicles in Iran, making the country one of its biggest markets outside France.

The Chinese will be happy to replace the Europeans in Iran's growing market.

Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei had warned that one can not trust the Europeans. They again proved to be poodles who do whatever the U.S. says. Yesterday Khamenei gave order to restart the production of centrifuges for Uranium enrichment. As long as the new centrifuges do not enrich Uranium the move is still within the frame work of the nuclear agreement. But the announcements demonstrates that Iran is willing and able to respond.

The Israeli nutters are back at playing their usual game. After sabotaging the nuclear deal that severely restricted Iran's enrichment capabilities they now demand war on Iran should it again expand its activities:

Israel's intelligence minister called Tuesday for a military coalition against Iran if the Islamic Republic were to defy world powers by enriching military-grade uranium.

Yisrael Katz's remarks came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began visiting European leaders to discuss Iran's regional involvement and nuclear programme, both seen by the Jewish state as grave threats.
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Katz addressed Tehran's threat to restart uranium enrichment at an "industrial level" if the 2015 pact falls apart.

"If the Iranians don't surrender now, and try to return" to unsupervised uranium enrichment, "there should be a clear statement by the President of the United States and all of the Western coalition," he said. 

As the U.S. and the Europeans are not upholding their part of the nuclear agreement with Iran, Iran has no reason to hold up its part. It will again run its civil nuclear program at full speed.

Iran will hopefully allow the IAEA inspection regime to stay in place. That can help to assure China, Russia and other powers that its program is a legitimate and civil one and not an attempt to establish Iran as a nuclear weapon state.

But keeping the IAEA in place will not refrain Israel or Bolton. They will continue to scream about Iran's non-existing nuclear bomb. Facts do not matter to them.

But in the end Iran is, just like North Korea, military unassailable. It can retaliate to any attack and create huge and lasting damage to U.S. (and Israeli) interests.

As neither Iran nor North Korea can be moved or reasonably attacked I do not understand what endgame, if any, Bolton has in mind.

Posted by b on June 5, 2018 at 01:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (93)

June 03, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - Italy And The Euro - Open Thread

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Recent news confirmed my analysis. The reported deal had not happened. The Syrian government insists that a U.S. retreat from al-Tanf must be part of any deal over southwest Syria: Syria FM links talks on south to US withdrawal from border area. Interestingly the idea of connecting al-Tanf with a solution in the southwest originally came from the U.S. itself. Next week the deputy foreign ministers of Russia, Jordan and the U.S. will meet in Amman to discuss the pending deal. The current demonstrations in Jordan over economic problems threaten to escalate into a revolt against the state. This gives Jordan, the U.S. and Israel an extra incentive to push for a fast deal with Syria. Jordan could then send back hundred thousands of Syrian refugees and alleviate its economic problems.

Italy voted for a coalition government between the Lega Nord and the Five Star Movement. When the parties presented their new government Berlin and Brussels protested against the new finance minister Paolo Savona, a known critic of the Euro. Directed by the ECB the financial markets immediately demanded higher interest rates for Italian bonds. Under pressure the Italian President Sergio Mattarella vetoed the new government. The parties capitulated. They named Giovanni Tria as their new finance minister. Tria is a member of the 'think tank' FMC (Fondazione Magna Carta):

The think tank aims at combining elements of liberalism with Catholic social teaching, supports the so-called "Judeo-Christian roots" of Europe, and takes a strong pro-United States and pro-Israel stance in foreign policy, especially in relation to radical Islam and Islamic terrorism. [...] FMC has had close ties with American neocons.

The new government has little experience in ruling. The powers-that-be selected Giovanni Tria to potty-train it. The rejected Paolo Savona will serve as Minister for European Union Affairs. This configuration guarantees lively cabinet meetings in Rome and loud discussions in Brussels.

Paolo Savona is right, the Euro was a mistake. It is destroying Italy and other southern countries of the continent. How it does that, why leaving the Euro is the only sane response and how to manage leaving it is detailed here: Sacrificing at the Altar of the Euro.

Also recommended:

- What if Babchenko had decided to stay “dead”? - OffGuardian
- The New York Times and the murder that wasn’t - WSWS
- "Kiev Committed an Act of Terrorism Against Public Opinion by Staging Babchenko's 'Murder'" - Stalkerzone

This is the end of our biannual request for Moon of Alabama donations. A big THANK YOU! to everyone who chipped in. If you haven't done so yet please click above for further instructions.

 Use as open thread ...

Posted by b on June 3, 2018 at 12:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (168)

June 01, 2018

Ukraine - The Babchenko Hoax Was Part Of A Corporate Raid

The case of the death and resurrection of the Russian journalist Babchenko in Kiev is even more surreal than it seemed so far. According to Ukrainian sources and court documents the whole hoax was part of an attempt to raid and take over a private company. 

Babchenko himself and the man who was hired to "kill" him had cooperated with the main branch of the Ukrainian national security service (SBU). The "operator", who is accused of having hired the "killer" for Russia, appeared in court. He claimed to have cooperated with the Ukrainian counter intelligence agency, which is side branch of the national security service. The accused "operator" is an executive of a private joint venture and has been under pressure over claims against his company. There are indications that the whole stunt may have been staged to get him "out of the way" to then take over the company he leads.

The suggestion is that high levels of the Ukrainian security services staged the whole affair not only to blame Russia but also for someone's personal gain.

In 2017 Arkady Babchenko, despised in Russia for his open hostility against its people, came via Israel to the Ukraine. He was welcome in Kiev for his anti-Russian position. Babchenko found a job with ATR, a Crimean Tatar TV station. The fine-print on the ATR website says that it "was supported by the Media Development Fund of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine".

On May 29 the Ukrainian government claimed that Babchenko had been assassinated. As usual the death of a journalist hostile to Russia was used by NATO aligned media to blame Russia, the Kremlin and Putin. That there was zero evidence that Russia was involved did not matter at all.  A photo of the allegedly killed Babchenko laying in his blood emerged.


Crisis actor Arkady Babchenko - bigger

The very next day the General Prosecutor of the Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko and the head of the National Security Service (SBU) Vasyl Grytsak (also written as Hrytsak) held a press conference and presented a very alive and happy Arkady Babchenko. He had not been shot at all. The whole hoax, it was explained, was launched to find the people behind an alleged assassination campaign originating in Russia. In this official version the Russians hired some Ukrainian "operator" who then hired the "killer" to assassinate Babchenko. The hired killer told the police about it and the hoax of Babchenko's death was staged to find the culprits behind the plot.

All those western "journalists" who had believed Ukrainian government claims without any evidence and wrote unfounded accusations  against Russia were not amused. The Ukrainian government exposed them as the mere propaganda tools and fools they are. The "journalist"  Babchenko himself, interviewed by Bloomberg's Leonid Bershidsky, comes off as a naive and rather dim light.

Yesterday the "hired killer", one Alexey Tsymbalyuk, went public. He is a Ukrainian nationalist who had fought against the the Russia supported entities in eastern Ukraine. He has since become an orthodox priest.


bigger

via Alec Luhn - bigger

Would an operator for Russia hire an Ukrainian nationalist and priest who had fought Russian aligned entities in east-Ukraine to kill a well known anti-Russian figure? Hmmm.

The SBU did not confirm that Alexey Tsymbalyuk is the "killer" but Ukrainian media seem to believe him.

The General Prosecutor of the Ukraine named one Boris German (also written Herman) as the Russian paid "operator" who had hired Alexey Tsymbalyuk to kill Arkady Babchenko.

Boris German denies that he worked for Russia.

According to Strana.ua (Russian, machine translation), Jewgenij Solodko, the attorney of the accused "operator" Boris German, rejects the accusations against his client. Boris German (the man) is co-owner of a Ukrainian joint venture with the German (the country) company Schmeisser (also written Schmyser or Shmyser) which produces optics for sniper rifles. German's company had good relations with his customers at the Ukrainian defense ministry. He had also supported the "anti-terror-operations" of Ukrainian nazi formations against the "Russian's" in the east.

The attorney says that over the last six months German's apartment and company had been searched several times by the SBU. The SBU, he alleges, shook German down for some $70,000. The SBU, he writes, had not presented any evidence of any Russian involvement. The attorney denies that his client had any connection with Russians.

Meduza's report on German's court appearance presents a slightly different version:

The man charged with trying to organize the murder of the Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko announced in court on Thursday that he was acting as a Ukrainian counterintelligence agent.

German says he started cooperating with Ukrainian counterintelligence after he was approached by an “old acquaintance” living in Moscow who “works at a Putin foundation, organizing unrest in Ukraine.” German says he was told to learn more about the flow of Russian money into Ukraine funding certain politicians and “terrorist groups.”

According to reports in the Ukrainian media, German said his acquaintance in Russia is named either Vyacheslav Pivovarkin or Vyacheslav Pivovarnik. It’s still unclear if German accuses this person of ordering Babchenko’s murder.

It is curious that the attorney of Boris German makes claims which are partly contradicting by those made by his client.

The killing, the killer and the operator who hired the killer were all fakes. Arkady Babchenko, Alexey Tsymbalyuk and Boris German all worked with this or that branch of the Ukrainian security service. All seem to have anti-Russian credentials.

But wait, the mess is even deeper.

In our piece yesterday we laid out how the Ukrainian plot and other recent incidents were arranged to discredit Russia just in time for the start of the soccer World Cup in Russia. It turns out that this was only one aspect of the hapless plot.

Bloomberg writer Leonid Bershidsky points to a piece by one Volodymyr Boiko, a "parachuting instructor in Kiev", who describes (in Ukrainian) an even darker level of the story.

Boiko quotes from official Ukrainian court reports giving their case numbers and dates. He starts (machine translated):

Just do not laugh. The imitation of the "murder" of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, which caused such anger in international diplomatic and human rights circles, was a way to resolve the corporate dispute between the founders of the Ukrainian-German joint venture "Schmayser", whose head Boris Herman, SBU head Grytsak and the Prosecutor General Lutsenko was declared the customer of murder and terrorist, acting on the tasks of Russian special services.

The court papers show that the whole affair started in February 2016 and was about an attempt to take over a company. Since 2016 German, the executive director of the company, was fighting off creditors including the founder of the company. These creditors alleged that German or the company he led, had not paid back some loans they had made and demanded to take over the company to cover their losses. German provided that the loans had been repaid and produced receipts. The creditors alleged that the receipts were counterfeit. Several cases and many motions were filed and the whole court case ran for nearly two years. German seems to have won it.

Such attempt to take over a company via fraudulent court claims have been a distinct feature of the "wild east" after the Soviet Union broke apart. In Russia, in the Ukraine and elsewhere fraudulent legal cases, physical raids, intimidation and murder were and are regular means to grab industrial assets. As such the German case is nothing remarkable. But its further development into an absurd hoax makes it special.

As their attempt to raid German's company through a court campaign over minor loans failed, the raiders, with SBU chief Grytsak seemingly behind them, thought out a different way to go after German. Hence the Babchenko hoax and the allegations that he was an "operator" for Russia.

Volodymyr Boiko continues (machine translated):

But "getting" Herman through the police his opponents could not, because judges consistently refused to choose a precautionary measure because of the insignificance of the crime. And then the order was taken by the Department of Counterintelligence of the SBU. Apparently, it is a primitive provocation directed at the arrest of the head of the joint venture "Schmyser" in order to take away the share of the authorized capital of the enterprise, which he, according to the opponents, owns unlawfully.

The story Boiko tells is consistent with the claims German's attorney made about long ongoing SBU raids of German's apartment and company. The court paper Boiko cites seem valid. It likely is a real part of the Babchenko story, but it may still not be the whole truth.

The staged murder, with a fake cadaver, a fake killer and a fake operator behind it, was endorsed (video) at the highest levels of the Ukrainian government.

"Western" media used the hoax to accuse and defame Russia and its president Putin without the slightest supporting evidence. That alone is already a serious mess and reveals the utter failure of "western" journalism and media.

The background of the case, a takeover of a company by illegal means, demonstrates the total social failure of the "western" coup in Ukraine. The worst of the worst, robber barons like Poroschenko and criminal bankers like Kolomoisky went on to steal billions of "western" aid while the Ukrainian state fell apart. Defying the courts the power of the state is secretly abused for slapstick worthy plots to grab up industrial assets.

The victims are the people of Ukraine who get robbed of their means and their security. Russia, the permanent boogeyman of the "west", is least to blame for it. 

Posted by b on June 1, 2018 at 12:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (93)