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November 15, 2018

U.S., Al-Sauds Fight Over MbS Advisor - White House Willing To Appease Erdogan

The chief prosecutor of Saudi Arabia cleared his boss, clown prince Muhammad bin Salman, of involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. A number of easily replaceable people were indicted. In a coordinated move the U.S. Treasury sanctioned a number of the people who played a role in the Khashoggi case. There is an interesting difference between the Saudi and the U.S. list of the involved people. Meanwhile the White House is looking for ways to induce Turkey to finally settle the case.

The Saudi prosecutor indicted eleven people and demands the death penalty for five of them. It is not yet known under which article of Saudi law the people were indicted. Death penalties under some articles often end with pardons. Ten other persons are still under investigation.

The story told in the briefing of the Saudi investigation results gives a new version of the events. (No names are given in the briefing. They were added below based on earlier reports.) The briefing says:

  • The former Deputy President of the General Intelligence Presidency (GIP), Major General Ahmed al-Asiri, issued an order to the mission leader Maher Mutreb to bring Kashoggi back to Saudi Arabia by means of persuasion or by force.
  • ‏The leader of the mission formed a 15-member team that consisted of three groups (negotiations/ intelligence/ logistics) to persuade and return the victim. Mutreb consulted with the now fired advisor to MbS, Saud al-Qahtani, because Qahtani knew Khashoggi.
  • A forensic expert was included in the team "for the purpose of removing evidence from the scene in the case force had to be used to return the victim."
  • The mission leader contacted a collaborator in Turkey "to secure a safe location in case force had to be used return the victim."
  • "After surveying the Consulate, the head of the negotiation team concluded that it would not be possible to transfer the victim by force to the safe location in case the negotiations with him to return failed. The head of the negotiation team decided to murder the victim if the negotiations failed."
  • The investigation concluded that the crime was carried out after a physical altercation with the victim where he was forcibly restrained and injected with a large amount of a drug resulting in an overdose that led to his death.
  • The bod was dismembered. Five people carried the parts out of the consulate and one of them later handed them over to a collaborator.
  • One member of the mission put on Khashoggi's clothes, walked outside for a while and disposed them in a trash can.
  • The leader of the mission agreed with the leader of the negotiation team to write a false report which claimed that that Khashoggi had left the consulate.

So far the story the Saudi investigation tries to sell.

It effectively absolve the clown prince. It absolves his media advisor Saud al-Qahtani and MG Ahmed al-Asiri. The leader of mission will probably be sentenced for falsifying his report, while the head of the negotiation team and some of his helpers will take the brunt of the penalties. They are commoners, three or four levels below the top, and of no further value.

The story is of course not believable. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. No low level employee would dare to decided to kill a person of higher interests when the order says to bring the person back alive. Neither the mission leader nor the negotiation team leader would take such a step without consulting with Riyadh.

The murder was clearly planned at a higher level and well before the team landed in Istanbul. One does not bring a person that looks like the victim to make it look like the victim walked out 'just in case' something bad happens. If an abduction is planned one does not bring a 'forensic expert' -who in reality is a well known doctor specialized in autopsies- to 'cleanup' the scene.

The Saudi release was coordinated with the White House. Shortly after the Saudi prosecutor went public, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned several persons under the Global Magnitzky Act over the case:

Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Saud al-Qahtani, his subordinate Maher Mutreb, Saudi Consul General Mohammed Alotaibi, and 14 other members of an operations team for having a role in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

The inclusion of al-Qahtani, who was the closed advisor to MbS, is quite interesting. The Saudi investigation tale does not give a him role besides consulting with the mission leader. It even tries to exculpate him by explaining his patriotic motive:

The former advisor met with the leader of the mission and the negotiation team; to share with them information relevant to the mission based on his specialization in media. The former advisor expressed his belief that the victim was coopted by organizations and states hostile to the Kingdom and that the victim’s presence outside of Saudi Arabia represents a threat to national security and he encouraged the team to persuade the victim to return, noting that his return represents a significant achievement of the mission.

The Treasury designation gives him a way more active role:

Saud Al-Qahtani is a senior official of the Government of Saudi Arabia who was part of the planning and execution of the operation that led to the killing of Mr. Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, 2018. This operation was coordinated and executed by his subordinate Maher Mutreb, and involved participation of at least 14 other Saudi government officials: ...

The sanction designation describes Maher Mutreb as "subordinate" of Qahtani. The Saudi report does not mention any such relation.

This is of interest as one of the tapes the Turks have is of a phone call by mission leader Maher Mutreb with an unnamed person in Riyadh. In the call Mutrab says: "Tell your boss the deed is done":

While the prince was not mentioned by name, American intelligence officials believe “your boss” was a reference to Prince Mohammed. Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, one of 15 Saudis dispatched to Istanbul to confront Mr. Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate there, made the phone call and spoke in Arabic, the people said.

The killer team was set up by Ahmed al-Asiri, but al-Asiri is not mentioned in the Treasury designation, while al-Qahtani is. The U.S. seems to believe that it was al-Qahtani who actually directed the operation and who sent his subordinate Maher Mutreb to lead the mission. Qahtani's one and only boss is clown prince MbS.


Saud al-Qahtani with Mohammad bin Salman - bigger

MbS probably wants Qahtani back in his role as a personal and political advisor. The Saudi investigation puts him in a positive light while the Treasury gives him a leading role. The U.S. seem willing to let MbS stay in his job but it wants to remove Qahtani from his inner circle.

The Trump administration is also actively looking for ways to appease the Turkish President Recep Erdogan. One price Erdogan has long demanded is the head of the Gülen movement, the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen. Erdogan claims that Gülen was behind the failed 2016 coup attempt against him.

In the late 1990s Gülen was settled in Pennsylvania with a green card the CIA's Graham E. Fuller organized for him. Trump seem to be willing to hand Gülen over to Erdogan:

The White House is looking for ways to remove an enemy of Turkish President Recep Erdogan from the U.S. in order to placate Turkey over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to two senior U.S. officials and two other people briefed on the requests.

Trump administration officials last month asked federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways of removing exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen in an attempt to persuade Erdogan to ease pressure on the Saudi government, the four sources said.

The effort includes directives to the Justice Department and FBI that officials reopen Turkey's case for his extradition, as well as a request to the Homeland Security Department for information about his legal status, the four people said.

The four sources talking to NBC are likely from the CIA out to sabotage Trump's plan. Gülen and his network of schools in Turkey, now closed, and in Central Asia are a major deep state asset.

Erdogan has milked the Khashoggi case as well as he could. He still has not published the tapes taken within the Consulate and the recordings of the various phone calls. He will try to use these to get more benefits from the case.

Trump will not be able to hand Gülen to him. The deep state will do its best to prevent that. Another demand Erdogan has is the removal of U.S. support from their Kurdish proxies in Syria. Without U.S. protection for the Kurds he could pursue his plan for annexing the whole northern border region of Syria from the Mediterranean to Iraq. Would Trump willing, and able, to deliver that?

Posted by b on November 15, 2018 at 02:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

November 14, 2018

Netanyahoo's Likely Fall Destroys Trump's Middle East Strategy

The political upheaval in Israel is a problem for the White House and its Middle East plans.

Today Israel's defense minister Avigor Lieberman resigned and called for new elections. He disagreed with prime minister Netanyahoo over the renewed ceasefire in Gaza.

Netanyahoo had worked towards the earlier ceasefire to split Gaza under Hamas from the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank under Mahmoud Abbas. That split is along the ideological line of the larger split in the Middle East between Qatar and Turkey as the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the absolute rules like the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman. Qatar is now financing Hamas in Gaza while the Saudis prop up Abbas.

This splitting up of the Palestinians is an intended part of the Jared Kushner 'peace' plan for the Middle East. The Palestinians shall no longer be recognized as a people but must be splintered into small local groups without a common identity who can then be more easily suppressed.

Lieberman seems to disagree with this plan. He wants to wage war against Hamas and defeat it. Any such attempt would of course reunite the Palestinians. But there is a loud constituency in the Zionist population that supports Lieberman's way.

This photo was taken today shortly before Lieberman resigned. Netanyahoo was not happy about the dilemma he is now in.


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He wanted to avoid an early election. His Likud party just lost seats in local elections and he is afraid of a campaign that would play out over Gaza and his 'dovish' stand in the latest conflict.

But with only a two seat majority and an unstable coalition Netanyahoo will have trouble to hold on.

Naftali Bennett, the leader of the rightwing religious Jewish Home party, demands to be made defense minister. Netanyahoo does not want to give Bennet such a high profile job. But Bennett threatens to resign and to bring the Netanyahoo's coalition down if he does not get his will.

Netanyahoo is already the prime minister, foreign minister and health minister of Israel. He will now add the title of defense minister if only for a short time. Elections will likely be held in March.

There are currently some 18 parties and political groups in the Knesset. Netanyahoo's Likud party holds 30 of 120 seats but could easily lose some in a new election. With a smaller base Netanyahoo would have difficulties to build a new coalition and to again become prime minster.

Jared Kushner, the son in law of president Trump, has his 'deal of the century' Middle East plan build on his very personal relation with Netanyahoo and Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. If Netanyahoo is no longer prime minister that plan is even more dead than it already seems to be. The Trump administration has no alternative policy and Kushner is not the one to develop and pursue it.

The common patron and biggest donor of Trump and of Netanyahoo is the casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Can he buy Netanyahoo a new premiership? If he can't, and Trump's Israel policy is thereby dead, will he still support Trump in his re-election campaign?

The White House will have to think about that and come up with a plan to support Netanyahoo. What could it do?

As for Lieberman. He is a brash and thuggish man with little political foresight. In 2016 he boosted that he would kill Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, should he become defense minister. Six weeks later he became defense minister.


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The website Is Ismail Haniyeh dead yet? has counted the time since Lieberman became defense minister. 2 years, 5 months, 2 weeks and 1 day later the answer is still "No". It is one reason why it is unlikely that he will ever become prime minister.

 


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Lieberman is also a casualty of the "Assad must go" curse.

He joins a number of other prominent politicians who have called for the overthrow of the Syrian president and lost their job while Bashar al-Assad still enjoys his (vid).

 

Posted by b on November 14, 2018 at 03:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (104)

November 13, 2018

The Short War With Gaza Exposed Israel's Weakness - Updated

Updated below
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Last week a ceasefire was agreed upon between Palestinian factions in Gaza and Israel:

The aim of the change, in a plan mediated by Egypt and with money supplied by Qatar, is to provide much-needed relief for Gaza, restore calm on the Israeli side of the border and avert another war.

On Sunday night Israeli special forces broke the ceasefire by invading Gaza under disguise. Such incursions happen quite often but are usually left unreported. The invaders wore civilian clothing and some were cloaked as women. Their cars arrived at the house of a local Qassam commander but suspicious guards held them up. A firefight ensued in which 7 Palestinians and 1 Israeli officer were killed. It is not clear what the intent of the Israeli raid was. A car left behind held what appeared to be surveillance equipment. The intruders fled back to Israel.

It is likely that rivalry within the Israeli government was behind this provocation:

[T]he perception that Israel, by allowing the fuel and cash shipments into Gaza, was paying off Hamas set off acrimonious wrangling between two rival right-wing members of Israel’s security cabinet.

Earlier Sunday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett called the cash infusion “protection money.” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused Mr. Bennett of having supported such payments and of having opposed in recent weeks the more aggressive military reprisals against Hamas that Mr. Lieberman favored.
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By night’s end Mr. Netanyahu had cut short his trip [to Paris] and was flying back to Israel in response to the Gaza hostilities.

Did Lieberman order the incursion to undercut Netanyahoo ceasefire and his rival Bennet?


Map via SouthFront.org - bigger

The breach of the ceasefire by Israel set off another round of tit for tat strikes. A commando unit of Hamas' Qassam brigade launched an attack against a bus that had carried Israeli soldiers to the border. To avoid further escalation the shooter waited until the soldiers were out of the way before hitting it. Only the driver was injured. Then the Israeli air force destroyed the al-Aqsa TV station in Gaza city after notifying the Palestinians of its intent. It also damaged a university building. Rocket volleys from Gaza followed and the Israeli air-force hit several buildings. After 48 hours the ceasefire was renewed.

During the conflict the Palestinian side demonstrated a series of new capabilities:

  • The Palestinian command published a video of the strike against the bus by a Kornet anti-tank guided missile (ATGM). Since it lost dozens of tanks to ATGM attacks in the 2006 war against Hezbullah in Lebanon, the Israeli army is extremely afraid of such missiles. The arrival of these weapons in the besieged Gaza will be a serious concern.
  • The Palestinians also launched over 460 artillery missiles and mortars within 25 hours. This by far exceeds the firing rate during Israel's 2014 war on the Gaza strip. Some of these missiles had a larger range then previous models. Israel's Iron Dome missile defense systems fired some 100 missiles but their accuracy is questionable and teh price high. Each Iron Dome missile costs some $65,000 while a mortar round or rocket costs a few hundred dollar. Many of the Palestinian rockets reached their targets in the Zionist settlements Ashkelon, Netivot, and Sderot.
  • Israel announced only two hits on missile launching cells. It seems that the Palestinians have perfected their camouflage and remote firing capabilities.
  • The rival Palestinian groups in Gaza -Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others- operated under a central command. No group claimed missile strikes for itself. In the past each volley of missiles was followed by a news statement in which this or that group claimed responsibility. This time all groups worked from a common operations room. None released responsibility claims or other information that would help Israel's intelligence.

It was Israel that practically begged to return to the ceasefire. Egypt led the negotiations:

Earlier Tuesday, the Political-Security Cabinet meeting that convened following the escalation in the south came to a halt after seven hours. After hearing the army's and the security establishment's assessments, the cabinet instructed the IDF to continue to operate in Gaza as necessary.

All the officials from the defense establishment who participated in the cabinet meeting — IDF chief of staff, the head of Military Intelligence, the head of the Shin Bet, the head of the Mossad, and the head of the NSC— supported the Egyptian request for a cease-fire.
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"If we had intensified the attacks, rockets would have been fired at Tel Aviv," senior cabinet officials said.

Since 15:30 local time today the situation is again quiet and calm. But the squabbling within the Israeli cabinet immediately resumed:

All the ministers— including Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Minister Naftali Bennett—did not object to a cease fire.

Following this report, the Defense Ministry said that Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's support of a cease-fire deal were "fake news." The statement said that the Defense Minister's position was consistent and had not changed. Ministers Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Ze'ev Elkin also said they did not support a cease-fire deal with Hamas.

In total 13 people were killed in Gaza and at least 2 on the Israeli side. A Hamas spokesperson accused Lieberman of being responsible for the breach of the ceasefire and demanded that Netanyahoo fires him.

The short conflict demonstrated that:

  • Israel is deterred. It does not want to launch another war on Gaza.
  • The siege of Gaza, by Israel, Egypt and by the Palestinian authority under Mahmoud Abbas, failed. The reputational cost of the siege became too high after Israel killed some 160 Palestinians during weekly protests along the demarcation fence. It had to allow diesel fuel and money from Qatar to reach Gaza.
  • The siege failed to prevent that Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other groups acquired a larger number of missiles and other new capabilities.
  • The Palestinians in Gaza are united. The resistance against the occupation is alive and well.

For decades the Zionist entity was able to attack its neighbors as it pleased. That changed. It no longer dares to step into Lebanon for fear of Hezbullah's reprisal. Syria's western airspace is closed for Israel thanks to the new S-300PMU2 air defense Russia delivered to the Syrian army. Israeli special forces botched their incursion into Gaza and the Iron Dome missile defense proved to be to faulty to protect Zionist settlements. The resistance in Gaza has new capabilities and surprises for Israel should it again attack. 

Israel's newly won "friends" in the leadership of Saudi Arabia and the UAE proved to be unstable and of little value. The Boycott, divest and sanctions movement against the self declared apartheid state has undermined its image. Its lobby has been exposed. Its budget deficit is too high.

The short conflict in Gaza only demonstrated that Israel is weak and that its downward trend continues.

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Update Nov 14, 10:00 UTC

Israel's Defense Minister Avigor Lieberman just resigned and called for new elections. He gives the Qatari money which Netanyahoo allowed to go to Gaza and yesterday's ceasefire as reason for his disagreement with Netanyahoo.

Netanyahoo had planned the earlier ceasefire with Gaza to split Gaza under Hamas from the Palestinian Authority under Abbas in the West Bank. Yesterday the Saudis handed another chunk of money to Abbas to counter the money Qatar gave to Hamas in Gaza.

This splitting of the Palestinians is an intended part of the Kushner plan.

Lieberman disagrees with it. He is the super hawkish John Bolton in this game, overtaking Netanyahoo on the far far right.

Netanyahoo wants to avoid an early election. His Likud party just lost seats in local elections and he is afraid of a campaign that would play out over Gaza and his newly dovish stand over the latest conflict.

But with only a two seat majority in an unstable coalition Netanyahoo will have trouble to hold on.

Just as I wrote the above update, Naftali Bennett, the leader of the rightwing religious Jewish Home party, demanded to be made Defense Minister. Netanyahoo will dislike this. He does not want to give Bennet such a high profile job. But Bennett will resign and bring the coalition down if he does not get his will.

Posted by b on November 13, 2018 at 02:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (111)

November 12, 2018

False Reports In U.S. Media Suggest A Great Deception

The New York Times is lying to its readers about the commitments of an adversarial state. It did not learn a single lesson from its fake reporting that led the Iraq War. It again furthers hostile aggression.


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In a piece published today, In North Korea, Missile Bases Suggest a Great Deception, the paper lies about North Korea's commitments:

North Korea is moving ahead with its ballistic missile program at 16 hidden bases that have been identified in new commercial satellite images, a network long known to American intelligence agencies but left undiscussed as President Trump claims to have neutralized the North’s nuclear threat.

The satellite images suggest that the North has been engaged in a great deception: It has offered to dismantle a major launching site — a step it began, then halted — while continuing to make improvements at more than a dozen others that would bolster launches of conventional and nuclear warheads.

There is no North Korean deception. It agreed to dismantle a missile test site, not an operative "launching site", and it agreed to a moratorium of nuclear and missile testing. Nowhere has it made any commitment to stop productions or deployments of missiles.

The Singapore Declaration Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump signed says nothing about ballistic missiles. It agrees on four step to be taken in sequence: 1. establish new US-DPRK relations, 2. build a lasting and stable peace regime in all of Korea, 3. support of the Panmunjom Declaration between North and South Korea, 4. North Korea commits "to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".

There is no public or secret commitment by North Korea to stop its production of ballistic missiles just as there is not commitment by the United States to stop its continuing arms buildup.

There is in fact the opposite. North Korea openly said multiple times that it would increase its ballistic missile capacity. In May 2017 Chairman Kim Jong-un ordered to start mass production of the medium range Pukguksong-2 (Poseidon-2) missile:

[The KCNA state news agency] quoted Kim as saying the Pukguksong-2 met all the required technical specifications so should now be mass-produced and deployed to the Korean People's Army strategic battle unit.

In August 2017 he ordered to increase the production of solid fuel missiles.

Kim visited the North Korean Chemical Material Institute of the Academy of Defence Science recently, according to a statement from the government-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

“He instructed the institute to produce more solid-fuel rocket engines and rocket warhead tips by further expanding engine production process and the production capacity of rocket warhead tips and engine jets by carbon/carbon compound material,” the statement read.

At the beginning of 2018 Kim Jong-un again publicly ordered to expand ballistic missile production. Those were not empty words. By July 2018 the expansion of a known missile factory was visible in publicly available satellite pictures.

Foreign Affairs noted that these were legitimate steps, not deceptions:

This activity does not suggest Kim is being duplicitous or is “cheating.” He never promised to stop producing nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles. In fact, quite the opposite. In his 2018 New Year’s Day address, Kim directed North Korea’s “nuclear weapons research sector and the rocket industry” to “mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles.” It is clear now that Kim is following through on what he said he would do.

The NY Times piece peddles a lame analysis of some satellite pictures by the Center for Strategic and International Security (CSIS, funded by oil, weapons and banks). The analysis only describes one old missile site that was developed over decades and saw no recent changes:

First phase construction of the Sakkanmol base began sometime between 1991 and 1993 using specialized engineering troops from KPA Unit No. 583 [...] The first phase was likely partially completed by September 1999 when it was reported that “27 (Scud missiles) were deployed to the Togol area (Sakkanmol) of North Hwanghae to form a missile regiment.” [...] Beginning about 2004, the construction of an unidentified military facility with administration, barrack, housing, and support facilities began along the valley leading to the Sakkanmol base. [...] Sometime in 2010 to 2011, a second phase of construction activity began at Sakkanmol that included the addition of barracks, vehicle maintenance and storage facilities, greenhouses, and a number of small structures throughout the base.

The CSIS report is about a well established and well known base for short range missiles. The base saw no recent changes. Why is the New York Times making "deception" nonsense out of it if not to sabotage the efforts by the U.S. president to come to peace with North Korea?

There is another deception in the Sanger/Broad piece. It quotes a State Department statement without pointing out that it is an obvious lie:

A State Department spokesman responded to the findings with a written statement suggesting that the government believed the sites must be dismantled: “President Trump has made clear that should Chairman Kim follow through on his commitments, including complete denuclearization and the elimination of ballistic missile programs, a much brighter future lies ahead for North Korea and its people.”

Nowhere has North Korea made such commitments. Is it the task of the "free press" to repeat the lies offered by the State Department? Is its task to offer its own lies on top of those false statements?

In 2002 the New York Times published dozens of false reports about alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. No such weapons exited. That reporting led to the catastrophic war on Iraq. The Times scapegoated its reporter Judith Miller to exculpate itself. But as today's report shows it has learned absolutely nothing from it. It is now trying to sabotage the one and only Trump initiative that might lead to a less dangerous world. Achieving peace in Korea is complicate enough. Additional hurdles thrown up through misleading reporting make it more difficult.

Currently the talks between the United States and North Korea are again on hold as the U.S. demands to proceed with point 4 of the Singapore Declaration, denuclearization, before delivering on point 1, 2 and 3 by lifting the current sanctions against North Korea and by signing a peace agreement. The government of South Korea is working to bring the talks back on track.

Peddling satellite pictures of old North Korean bases and deceiving ones readers about its commitments make war on the Korean peninsula more likely. It is not only deceptive but nefarious.

 

Posted by b on November 12, 2018 at 01:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (67)

November 11, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2018-60

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Other stuff:

Syria Comment has a good piece on the situation of the Druze in Sweida, south Syria. The fight against the ISIS holdout in the nearby volcanic al-Safa hills was handicapped as ISIS still held Druze women and children as hostages. The Syrian army could not use heavy weapons for fear of killing the them. Last week the last hostages were freed in a commando raid. The battle against ISIS in the southeastern semi-desert can now recommence with full air and artillery support. Then comes Idleb ...

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A longread I enjoyed: Cesspools, Sewage, and Social Murder - Environmental Crisis and Metabolic Rift in Nineteenth-Century London. How a change in fertilizer usage and urbanization developed into a social crisis from human waste.

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Last week a suddenly stiff shoulder due to a pinched nerve disabled my capability to type. Resting the arm and some mild medication helped. But I also changed the mouse I use from a conventional type to a more ergonomic (and expensive) one. The more natural positioning of the hand is one advantage. The other is the (adjustable) higher resolution that allows me to use a big screen with very little movement. It took a few days to get used to it by I would not want to miss it.

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b on November 11, 2018 at 11:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (113)

November 10, 2018

Yemen - Holding Hodeidah Is The Houthi's Last Chance

From last weeks MoA review:

The UAE and its mercenaries have renewed a large attack on Hodeidah. Should they capture it they will control all supplies to the Houthi areas. The Saudis and the UAE seem to use the 30 days Trump has given them for maximum gain.

The attack led by the United Arab Emirates has nearly achieved to surround Hodeidah. The city and its port are the only way left to provide food to some 20 million people living in the capital Sanaa and the northern highlands. Should Hodeidah fall, the Houthi and their allies will have to submit to the Saudis or see their people die of starvation.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), which works in Hodeidah, notes:

There is now only one viable overland route from Hodeidah city to Sana'a, and a very high risk that further aerial or land attacks on roads or bridges could sever access roads between the cities entirely, cutting the last remaining supply route for food, fuel and medicine to many of the estimated 20 million Yemenis who depend on imports through Hodeidah to meet their basic needs.

Currently the Houthi try the same tactic that broke earlier UAE attempts to conquer Hodeidah (upper left). They cut the long UAE supply line coming from the south along the western coast over which the attacking force (red) is provided with food, fuel and ammunition. If the latest news is correct they achieved that in two places.


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It is relatively easy to interrupt the logistic line for a few hours. It is far more difficult to hold the blocking positions. The landscape along the coast is flat and the UAE proxy forces have tanks, artillery and air support, all of which the Houthi lack. They are mountain infantry fighters and have no means to defend themselves on flat land. They will have to resort to constant surprise attacks in different locations along the supply line to keep the UAE forces off balance. They are somewhat successful (pics) with that. It is not known if they have the manpower and ammunition reserves to maintain such attacks for long.

From the very beginning of the Saudi/UAE war on Yemen the Saudi strategy was designed to starve the highlands into subjugation. Their air attacks were concentrated on water supplies, farms, agricultural factories, fishery and transport routes. They blocked smuggling routes and hindered humanitarian supplies. They took control of Yemen's central bank and willfully induced hyperinflation.

Some smuggled food still reaches the markets in Sanaa but it is now too expensive for most people to buy. The NRC remarks:

The Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket (SMEB), accounting for food, water, hygiene and cooking fuel needs was revised to YER 73,000 (USD 104) per month last week, reflecting increased costs of more than 40% since July this year. Inflation on the price of essential items, combined with the rapid depreciation of the Yemeni riyal and lack of access to income are among the key factors driving Yemen's worsening hunger crisis.

In a Washington Post op-ed the head of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al-Houthi writes:

The blockade of the port city is meant to bring the Yemeni people to their knees. The coalition is using famine and cholera as weapons of war. It is also extorting the United Nations by threatening to cut their funds, as if it were a charity and not a responsibility required under international law and Security Council resolutions.

The United States wants to be viewed as an honest mediator — but it is in fact participating and sometimes leading the aggression on Yemen.

Yesterday the U.S. announced that it would end its refueling of the Saudi planes that bomb Yemen. This means little. The Saudis have their own tanker fleet and by now enough experience to use it. The UAE planes fly from a base in Eritrea and need no refueling. U.S. intelligence support for the Saudis and the delivery of other war supplies continue. There are also U.S. troops on the ground who might well direct the Saudi/UAE attack.

The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the U.S. tactic of calling for a ceasefire in 30 days while intensifying the fight:

"... Taking into account that Washington is offering direct military support to the coalition units fighting in Yemen, the sincerity of the United States’ statements in favor of the soonest end of the active phase of the Yemeni conflict is called to question," the ministry said.

"So far, everything indicates that the US side is not planning to change its policy in Yemen and the parties to the armed confrontation in that country are still staking on settling the conflict by force," the ministry stressed.

To call for a ceasefire in 30 days and to end the refueling for Saudi planes are fig-leaf moves by the U.S. to distant itself from the willfully caused famine of millions of Yemenis. The U.S. has the leverage to make the Saudis and the UAE stop their attack on Hodeidah. Early October President Trump said himself that the Saudi rulers would not last two weeks without U.S. support. That wasn't an exaggeration.

If the Trump administration really wanted, the war on Yemen would stop tomorrow. Instead it considers naming the Houthi a terrorist organization. That step would be a major escalation that would make any peace talks much more difficult.

The Houthi attacks on the supply line of the attacking forces along the west coast are the last chance to prevent the fall of Hodeidah port, and the imminent famine of millions of people.

I wish them luck.

Posted by b on November 10, 2018 at 02:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (69)

November 09, 2018

ISIS Again Claims Cyber Attacks Which Were Falsely Blamed On Russia

Since late 2014 the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had its own hacking group. It waged cyber attacks against media and military targets. The group became known as United Cyber Caliphate (UCC).

Later on some "experts" attributed the UCC attacks to Russia. They claimed that the Cyber Caliphate did not exist but was a Russian false flag operation. There is now new evidence such claims are nonsense.

The attacks claimed by the Cyber Caliphate included:

  • Jan 2015 - Twitter and Youtube account of the U.S. CentCom taken over and filled with pro-ISIS messages.
  • Mar 2015 - United States Air Force's pilots list with detailed personal information posted online.
  • Apr 2015 - French TV5Monde live feed and social media hacked and defaced with the message "Je Suis ISIS".
  • Apr 2015 - Australian airport website defaced with ISIS message.
  • Aug 2015 - United States' military database hacked and data of some 1400 personnel posted online.
  • Sep 2015 - British government emails hacked. Email addresses of top cabinet ministers published.
  • Apr 2016 - UCC successfully hacks 20 Australian business websites, redirects them to ISIS content.
  • Apr 2017 - UCC released a kill list of 8,786 people.

ISIS delivered flawless propaganda material with well edited videos and created its own glossy magazines. Producing these required computer expertise. It was thus not astonishing to learn that some hackers had joined ISIS and worked with its media team. From an ISIS perspective the above listed targets all made sense. There was no reason to doubt the ISIS claims.

But then the 'Russia scare' nonsense took over. Suddenly each and every assumed computer attack, including those by the Cyber Caliphate, were attributed to Russia:

Russian hackers linked to the Kremlin could be behind one of the biggest attacks to date on televised communications, which knocked French station TV5Monde off air in April, sources familiar with France’s inquiry said.
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Hackers claiming to be supporters of Islamic State caused the public station’s 11 channels to temporarily go off air and posted material on its social media feeds to protest against French military action in Iraq.
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U.S. cybersecurity company FireEye, which has been assisting French authorities in some cases, said on Wednesday that it believed the attack came from a Russian group it suspects works with the Russian executive branch.
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Information about the TV5 attack was published on a website branded as part of the “Cyber Caliphate,” a reference to the Islamic State.

But the site was hosted on the same block of Internet Protocol addresses and used the same domain name server as the group called APT28 by FireEye and Pawn Storm by Trend Micro, another large security company.

Similar claims were made over other attacks that ISIS claimed for itself. "The Russians did it!" screamed various snake-oil selling cyber security companies.

Soon it was said that the Cyber Caliphate did not exist at all:

[T]he Cyber Caliphate is a Russian intelligence operation working through what spies term a cut-out.

U.S. secret agencies, including the National Security Agency, which controls American cyber-espionage and works closely with CYBERCOM, came to similar conclusions "APT 28 is Russian intelligence, it’s that simple,” explained an NSA expert to me recently.
...
In other words, the Cyber Caliphate is a Russian false-flag operation.

The snake-oil sellers and the writer above (intentionally) mistake methods for actors. The Advance Persistent Threat (ATP) number 28 describes a certain course of action taken during a hack. It is well know method that can be identified to some degree. But recognizing a method does not identify the persons that use it.

If a burgler once used a crowbar to open a window, further nearby break-ins that use a similar method might have been done by the same person. Or they might not. A different burgler could have used the same method. A home owner could have used it to scam his insurance. The method does not describe the actor.

Likewise the use of certain tools and methods to break into a computer does not define an actor. ATP 28 is not Russia. These tools and methods are publicly known. A spearphishing email is send to the target. When the receiver clicks a link in that email a malicious software is launched that creates a backdoor into the targeted computer. Anyone can find such tools online and initiate an attack. The often claimed attribution of ATPxyz to Russia always was and is sheer nonsense.

There is also new proof that the Cyber Caliphate indeed exists.

A few days ago a news outlet affiliated with ISIS published an obituary of a Canadian hacker who worked for ISIS. The Montreal Gazette reports:

An Islamic State-linked media outlet says a Canadian man was behind the terror group’s highest-profile cyber attacks, including the embarrassing takeover of the Twitter account of the U.S. military’s Central Command.
...
The Canadian fighter, who is said to have been killed by a drone strike in Syria, also allegedly penetrated bank computers and used the “spoils” to fund their fighting and hacked the U.S. Department of Defense, airports, international media organizations and the accounts of “hundreds” of U.S. soldiers.
...
The Toronto-born man “managed to bring blessed victories for the Caliphate state by carrying out electronic attacks that have made the enemies taste defeat and failure,” according the [Arabic-language] notice, ..

The “martyrdom” notice published by Al-Muhajireen Foundation, an outlet with known links to ISIL, identifies the Canadian jihadi hacker only by a nickname: Abu Osama Al-Kanadi.
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The announcement says Al-Kanadi became a top computer specialist with ISIL, also known by the acronym ISIS, and praises his online exploits with the Caliphate Cyber Army.

Abu Osama Al-Kanadi does not sound Russian to me. Nor were any of the hacks the Cyber Caliphate claimed in anyway useful to Russia.

But the damage is done. None of those "experts" who claimed that Russia was behind the Cyber Caliphate attacks will retract their claims and papers.  Nor will there be any correction in those main stream media that repeated their nonsense.

The message is clear: Russia is bad. Every hack ever done is by Russia. Russia is the enemy. Don't you ever forget that.
---
h/t Stephen McIntyre

Posted by b on November 9, 2018 at 03:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (44)

November 08, 2018

Two 'Russian Influence' Campaigns Claim Victory - One Is Real, The Other One Fake

Two new 'Russian' campaigns claim victory in their disinformation acts against the 'west'. One is real and the other one is fake. But - as usual by now - 'western' media mistake one for the other. For them the real one is fake and the fake one real*.

Proud Bear, a collective of GRU spies, celebrates its success in arranging Britain's exit from the European Union. It rented billboards in London to claim victory.


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Last night the GRU agents launched their @Pr0ud_Bear Twitter account and their webpage proudbear.ru to proudly confess their deed and to celebrate success.


Putin riding Brexit bulldog Arron Banks - video

The GRU officers ask for donations. They want to rent the animated billboard at Waterloo Station to show the real man behind Brexit. A bare breasted Putin "taking back control" while riding Big Ben with the Russian flag flying on top of it.


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The billboard rent for two weeks is £55,000 of which, as of now, £1,206 have been raised.

In a press notice the 'GRU Informatsiya Directorate' notes:

"The group hopes to counter recent unwarranted negative publicity about the GRU by putting up advertisements highlighting their part in Britain’s imminent liberation from the EU.”

The British disinformation agency Reuters calls the GRU billboards "spoof" and the GRU campaign a "stunt". That is disingenuous. Proud Bear is certainly more real then the Novichok poisoning of the now vanished Skripals and more real than the 'hacking' of the DNC servers blamed on Fancy and Cozy Bear.

Hidden in the source code of the Proud Bear website (in Firefox: "view-source:https://proudbear.ru/") is a meta text written in Russian. It begins (machine translated):

Financing Proud Bear is fully secured by the proceeds from the sale of giant eggplants grown on offshore land in Panama and watered solely with tears of Georges Soros.
But seriously, all of us are volunteers and are engaged in this project only because we are really concerned about the state of health of our democracy and the fact that not one of our leaders and a very small number of active politicians show any readiness to move their goals and protect her.

We know about the existence of Putin’s political machine aimed at destabilizing our society. We see its methods aimed at provoking discord and inciting nationalist enmity. And yet, those in power are in no hurry to respond. The 2016 referendum on UK membership in the European Union is an excellent example of such sabotage. The sea of ​​evidence that Russia had a hand in one of the most significant political decisions of our generation is simply ignored by our government. Theresa May prefers to promote Brexit’s ridiculous plan instead of stopping for a moment and truly investigating the question of whether Russia's influence was really decisive in the vote. The UK immediately needs a Muller-style investigation into Russian intervention in the Brexit campaign.

The British government denies that Russia had any influence in the Brexit campaign. That is not astonishing. Real GRU operations are executed flawlessly and stay secret until they are intentionally revealed. It did simply did not see the Russian hands behind it.

The hidden message goes on to lament about Russian and western campaigns to "destabilize democratic regimes" and lauds Russian journalists for revealing "the corrupt and antidemocratic nature of power in Russia."

That sounds like a typical GRU faint. Mirrors behind mirrors. In their hidden statement the Proud Bear agents play British victims while being the Russian source of the influence campaign that led to Brexit.


The Daily Beast is more inclined then Reuters to believe in the truth of the Russian menace.


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It claims that the Russian Internet Research Agency in St.Petersburg is celebrating its great success of manipulating the U.S. midterm elections:

The Mueller-indicted Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency is apparently declaring victory in the U.S. election and warning the “citizens of the United States of America” that “your intelligence agencies are powerless.”

“Despite all their efforts, we have thousands of accounts registered on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit spreading political propaganda,” read a statement attributed to the St. Petersburg-based organization. “These accounts work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to discredit anti-Russian candidates and support politicians more useful for us than for you.”

The statement appeared on a website titled the “Internet Research Agency American Division” that popped up over the weekend. Featuring a clip art logo of a green goblin typing on a laptop, and packed with absurd boasts about the IRA’s prowess, the site at first appeared to be a lampoon. But on Tuesday night it posted a previously unseen list of 100 IRA Instagram accounts that Facebook confirmed as authentic.

The unnamed website found 100 Instagram accounts that were "authentic"? Who knew that any such exist?

The website, which the Daily Beast does not dare to name, is usaira.ru. BBC Russia took a look at it and also seems to believe (machine translation) that the IRA is behind it.

The Instagram accounts listed on the site, for example instagram.com/immi.great, are - as of now - all dead. Facebook claims that it already deleted many of the named accounts before the usaira.ru website went up. (Immi.great though is also a Youtube account of Dmajan Denoble, a legitimate lawyer who gives immigration advice.)

But how can Dana Rohrabacher, the most pro-Russian representative, lose in the midterm election if the Russians influenced it?

To me the usaira.ru site seems fake. A spoof or stunt created to further defame the Russian web company which the Muller investigation accused of selling advertisement space on the inspiring web- and Facebook pages it built for that purpose.

It is possible that the Atlantic Council's DFRLab created the usaira.ru site to promote its censorship campaign? Quite so.

Proud Bear though is real. Russia is always proud to parade its troops (vid) when it celebrates victory. Britain is in political chaos over Brexit. The GRU won. It comes out into the open, offers vodka and celebrates it.

That's how its done. Nastrovje!

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*Note: The above may contain traces of snark.

Posted by b on November 8, 2018 at 05:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (79)

November 07, 2018

A Short Take On The Midterm Elections

The midterm elections in the United States had mixed results. Both sides will claim victory. There was no landslide in either direction.

The Republicans extended their majority in the Senate while the Democrats took the House of Representatives.

My hunch, that the Republicans would keep a majority in the House, was wrong. I underestimated the turnout for the Democrats. Some 114 million people voted yesterday compared to 88 million in the 2014 midterms.

The Democrats won at least 26 additional seats in the House. They needed 23 seats to gain a majority. Republicans increased their majority of 51 seats in the Senate to at least 54 seats.

The Democrats will chair all House committees and will run dozens of investigations against President Trump and his administration. They will subpoena his tax records, launch more 'Russian collusion' investigations and will question the ethics of Trump administration members. It will be a lot of political theater with little value. With a solid Republican majority in the Senate there is no chance that Trump will be impeached.

Trump's domestic agenda will be hindered by the new House majority. He may well compensate for that with a more aggressive foreign policy.

With more than $5 billion spent on midterm election campaigns the elected people are more indebted to their rich donors than ever before.

Florida passed an amendment that will restore the voting rights of some 1.4 million people with past felony convictions. This will change the political landscape. Most of the felons are people of color, often convicted for very minor crimes. In 2016 Trump carried the state by 100,000 votes.

Brothel owner Dennis Hof, who died on October 16, defeated Democrat Lesia Romanov and wins a Republican seat in the Nevada state assembly.

The campaign for the 2020 election has begun.

Posted by b on November 7, 2018 at 03:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (200)

November 06, 2018

Open Thread 2018-59

News & views ...

Posted by b on November 6, 2018 at 01:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (134)

November 05, 2018

This NYT Cartoon Helps Trump To Win

The New York Times cartoonist claims that:

  • Protecting U.S. borders from illegal entry by foreigners is not a valid mission for the U.S. military.
  • Illegally invading and destroying countries in the Middle East, to the benefit of the Zionist entity, is a valid mission.

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It is highly doubtful that U.S. voters agree with that take. Most of them seem to believe in the "Defense" moniker of the War Department.

Cartoons like the above can only help Trump win the midterm elections. One wonders why the NYT is willingly playing into his hands with this.

Posted by b on November 5, 2018 at 07:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (174)

November 03, 2018

The MoA Week in Review - OT 2018-58

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

The SDF is very much in trouble. ISIS is still attacking. There is trouble between the locally recruited Arab footsoldiers of the SDF and the Kurdish command. The U.S. is again bombing but the defense front of the SDF has largely broken down.

The UAE and its mercenaries have renewed a large attack on Hodeidah. Should they capture it they will control all supplies to the Houthi areas. The Saudis and the UAE seem to use the 30 days Trump has given them for maximum gain.

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b on November 3, 2018 at 10:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (195)

November 02, 2018

The Film The Israel Lobby Doesn't Want You To See

Today The Electronic Intifada published the first two parts of "The Lobby – USA", a four-part undercover investigation by Al Jazeera into Israel’s covert influence campaigns in the United States.

The planned broadcast of the film was prevented by Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera, on behalf of Israel.

From EI's description:

To get unprecedented access to the Israel lobby’s inner workings, undercover reporter “Tony” posed as a pro-Israel volunteer in Washington.

The resulting film exposes the efforts of Israel and its lobbyists to spy on, smear and intimidate US citizens who support Palestinian human rights, especially BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

It shows that Israel’s semi-covert black-ops government agency, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, is operating this effort in collusion with an extensive network of US-based organizations.

These include the Israel on Campus Coalition, The Israel Project and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

It is amazing that Israel gets away with such spying and intelligence operations against U.S. citizens and within the United States.

Israel and its lobby did a lot to suppress the movie and its wider distribution. That can only mean that it is good and deserves a large viewership.

Watch it here.

Posted by b on November 2, 2018 at 03:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (61)

November 01, 2018

By Way Of Deception - False Flag Terror Acts Press Europe To Sanction Iran

Israels secret service Mossad, with the CIA behind it, is framing Iran with alleged assassination plots in Europe.

In September a terror attack killed some 30 people in Iran. Two entities, an Arab separatist movement as well as the Islamic State terror group ISIS, took responsibility. After an investigation Iran found that it was ISIS which was responsible. It took revenge against the identified culprits.

Six weeks later Denmark claims, without providing evidence, that Iran tried to assassinate a leader of the Arab separatist movement over the incident. Iran denies any such attempt. The right wing Danish government uses the claim  to urge other European countries to sanction Iran.

It is unlikely that Iran would take action in Europe, which it urgently needs to reduce the damage of U.S. sanction, over an incident for which it already punished the Islamic State.

The Danish claims are allegedly based on information provided by Mossad. That only increases the suspicion that the assassination plot is a false flag operation similar to a recent one in Belgium. More likely though is that the CIA is behind such false flag incidents.

The details:

On September 22 gunmen killed 29 and wounded more than 70 participants and onlookers of a veterans day parade in Ahvaz, Iran:

Three of the attackers were gunned down during clashes with the security forces and one other was arrested, news agencies reported.
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"The terrorists disguised as Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Basiji (volunteer) forces opened fire to the authority and people from behind the stand during the parade," the governor of Khuzestan, Gholam-Reza Shariati, said, according to IRNA.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also referred to the attack as terrorism. Nauert said on Saturday, "We stand with the Iranian people against the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism and express our sympathy to them at this terrible time".

The Islamic State as well as an Arab separatist movement claimed responsibility:

On 22 September 2018, Yaqoob Al-Ahvaz claimed responsibility for the 2018 Ahvaz military parade attack in comments to UK-based Iran International TV. He said that his group Ahvaz National Resistance, a part of Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, has "no choice but to resist." On 23 September, a statement made in The Hague, Netherlands, on the ASMLA website, denied responsibility for the attack, saying that the claim was made by a "group that was expelled from the organization since 2015."

After Yaqoob Al-Ahvaz claimed responsibility Iran accused Saudi Arabia of involvement in the attack:

IRGC spokesman Ramezan Sharif said the attackers were affiliated with a terrorist group supported by Saudi Arabia, Iran's state-run Press TV said.

"The individuals who fired at the people and the armed forces during the parade are connected to the al-Ahvaziya group which is fed by Saudi Arabia," Sharif said. Saudi Arabia has yet to respond to the allegations.

The UK-based Iran International TV, where Yaqoob Al-Ahvaz claimed responsibility, is funded by a firm with ties to Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Several years ago ASMLA aka Al-Ahvaziya committed several terror attacks in Iran. Its leaders live in the Netherlands and Denmark.

Iran immediately reminded those countries of their duties:

Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassadors of the Netherlands and Denmark, along with a senior British diplomat on Saturday to issue a strong protest the attack, Iran's state-run media reports.

Bahram Ghasemi, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Iran "re-emphasized" to the diplomats a previous warning about the presence in their respective countries of members of a group that Iran classifies as a terrorist group and wants arrested and prosecuted.

According to IRNA, Ghasemi said "it is unacceptable" that members of a terrorist group be allowed in those countries and not be included on the European Union's terror list only because they have not committed crimes on European soil.

A few days later though, Iran concluded that the attack was not committed by the Ahvaz movement, but by the Islamic State. On October 1 it responded with a missile salvo that hit Islamic State facilities in Syria:

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced they have bombed a site in eastern Syria in retaliation to the terrorist attack against a military parade in Iranian Ahvaz 10 days ago.
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The IRGC confirmed that the targeted terrorist group was behind the terror attack that killed over a dozen and injured many more in the city of Ahvaz.

An additional operation against the planers of the attack took place on October 15 in Iraq:

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Tuesday they had killed the “mastermind” behind an attack on a military parade in the Iranian city of Ahvaz last month which left 25 people dead, nearly half of them members of the Guards.

The Guards said in a statement published on state media their forces had killed a man named Abu Zaha and four other militants in Diyala province in Iraq. One news website run by Iran’s state television said Abu Zaha was a member of Islamic State.

That closed the issue for Iran.

On October 30 Denmark suddenly accused Iran of an assassination plot against a leader of the ASMLA group:

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen described the alleged planned assassination by Iran of an exiled separatist leader in Denmark as "totally unacceptable"

The Iranian ambassador to Copenhagen was summoned to the foreign ministry over the allegations.

A Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin was arrested in Sweden on 21 October in connection with the alleged plan. The man denies the charges.

Authorities conducted a massive manhunt on 28 September which led to road closures, trains and ferries being cancelled, and bridges being shut across Denmark.

On Tuesday, Danish intelligence chief Finn Borch Andersen confirmed the measures had been taken to prevent the alleged plot.

The Danish intelligence accused the Norwegian citizens of taking pictures of a house where one of the ASMLA leader lives. It provide no evidence for its claims.

Iran rejected the accusations:

An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said such "biased reports" and allegations pursued "the enemy's plots and conspiracies" to harm the developing relations between Iran and Europe, according to Tasnim news agency.

It indeed seems that Danish government, led by the rightwing Venstre party, is collaborating with the U.S. and Britain to sabotage the European position against U.S. sanctions on Iran:

Mr Rasmussen said, after a meeting with his British counterpart Theresa May in Oslo, that he appreciated her support.

"In close collaboration with UK and other countries we will stand up to Iran," he tweeted.

Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said Denmark would discuss further actions with European partners in the coming days.

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, congratulated Denmark on arresting "an Iranian regime assassin".

The former Secretary General of NATO and U.S. stooge Anders Fogh Rasmussen is the predecessor of the current Venstre party leader and Danish premier Lars Løkke Rasmussen. Both are hawks.

 

Yesterday Israeli journalist reported that the information on which Denmark acted came from Israel:

Barak Ravid @BarakRavid - 10:12 utc- 31 Oct 2018

BREAKING: Israeli Mossad gave Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) the information about the assassination attempt planned by Iranian intelligence service against the leader of the Iranian opposition organization ASMLA, Israeli official tells me

Well - if Israeli officials says Iran did something bad that will surely be true. (Not.)

Iran's foreign minister accuses Israel of running false flag operations to frame Iran:

Javad Zarif @JZarif - 20:15 utc - 31 Oct 2018

Mossad's perverse & stubborn planting of false flags (more on this later) only strengthens our resolve to engage constructively with the world. [...]

The Times of Israel notes:

Denmark’s accusations against Iran followed the unveiling of another suspected Iranian plot to target a Paris rally by an opposition group in June. According to Israeli reports, the Mossad helped thwart that attack as well, which led to the arrest of several Iranians in Europe, including a diplomat.

The earlier plot involved two members of the anti-Iranian terror cult MEK in Belgium who were caught with explosives that they allegedly wanted to use to blow up a MEK conference in Paris:

The allegation that an Iranian operative plotted an attack on French soil is jeopardizing Europe’s support for the accord. As U.S. and Israeli officials ramp up pressure on Europe to sever ties with Tehran, they have cited it as a reason why Mr. Macron and other leaders should end their support for the deal.

On Tuesday, Denmark announced it had foiled an Iranian operation to kill a dissident, turning up the pressure on Europe to harden its posture toward Tehran. A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry said Iran had no involvement in the case.

The most interesting question about such plots is always "Cui bono?". Who benefits from these incidents?

Iran has no interest in causing any upheaval with Europe shortly before the second round of U.S. sanctions, which threaten its economic well being, come into place early this month. Iran already took revenge for the Ahvaz attack. It has no need to tackle some unrelated separatist who resides in Denmark. Iran needs Europe to work around the U.S. sanctions. That aim prohibits any such operations.

Both, the MEK plot as well as the case in Denmark, smell of false flag incidents. In both case no one was hurt. In both cases some stooges with no current relation to Iran were caught. Both cases came to light after information was allegedly provided by Mossad.

But is it really Israel who set up these incidents? Both serve U.S. interest just as much. It is no secret that the U.S. wants to prevent European subversion of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

In June 2017 the Trump administration installed a new CIA group to plot and launch undercover operations against Iran. It is led by its most ruthless operator:

He is known as the Dark Prince or Ayatollah Mike, nicknames he earned as the Central Intelligence Agency officer who oversaw the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the American drone strike campaign that killed thousands of Islamist militants and hundreds of civilians.

Now the official, Michael D’Andrea, has a new job. He is running the C.I.A.’s Iran operations, according to current and former intelligence officials, an appointment that is the first major sign that the Trump administration is invoking the hard line the president took against Iran during his campaign.

Mr. D’Andrea’s new role is one of a number of moves inside the spy agency that signal a more muscular approach to covert operations under the leadership of Mike Pompeo, the conservative Republican and former congressman, the officials said.

A year later the same Mike Pompeo, now Secretary of State, created the Iran Action Group within the State Department. It is a complementary entity to the CIA group. Little has been published about the action both groups have taken so far. What has Ayatollah Mike done since he set up shop 18 month ago?

It is likely that the false flag operations in Europe, like the ones in Belgium and Denmark, are run by the CIA with the Mossad only in an auxiliary role. The U.S. can hardly admit that it is faking terrorist incidents in Europe while the overrated Mossad loves to take credit for everything that happens on this world. 

Europe has no interest in supporting or escalating Trump's war on Iran. EU countries should demand hard evidence from Denmark and other accusers of Iran and should not act on the basis of only vague accusations.

Posted by b on November 1, 2018 at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (93)