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January 11, 2020

Iranian Armed Forces Say They Inadvertently Shot Down The Ukrainian Plane - Updated

Updated below

The Iranian Armed Forces General Staff just admitted (in Farsi, English translation) that its air defenses inadvertently shot down the Ukrainian flight PS 752 shortly after it took off on January 8 in Tehran :

2- In early hours after the missile attack [on US’ Ain al-Assad base in Iraq], the military flights of the US’ terrorist forces had increased around the country. The Iranian defence units received news of witnessing flying targets moving towards Iran’s strategic centres, and then several targets were observed in some [Iranian] radars, which incited further sensitivity at the Air Defence units.

3- Under such sensitive and critical circumstances, the Ukrainian airline’s Flight PS752 took off from Imam Khomeini Airport, and when turning around, it approached a sensitive military site of the IRGC, taking the shape and altitude of a hostile target. In such conditions, due to human error and in an unintentional move, the airplane was hit [by the Air Defence], which caused the martyrdom of a number of our compatriots and the deaths of several foreign nationals.

4- The General Staff of the Armed Forces offers condolences and expresses sympathy with the bereaved families of the Iranian and foreign victims, and apologizes for the human error. It also gives full assurances that it will make major revision in the operational procedures of its armed forces in order to make impossible the recurrence of such errors. It will also immediately hand over the culprits to the Judicial Organization of the Armed Forces for prosecution.

The Pentagon had claimed that Iran shot down the airliner but the evidence it presented was flimsy and not sufficient as the U.S. tends to spread disinformation about Iran.

It is welcome that the Iranian forces come clean about the incident.

That is not a given in such cases.

After the USS Vincennes in 1988 had shot down Iran Air Flight 655 and killed 290 people, including many children, the U.S. government denied any culpability. George H. W. Bush, the vice president of the United States at the time, commented: "I will never apologize for the United States – I don't care what the facts are... I'm not an apologize-for-America kind of guy." Despite its "error" the crew was given medals and the captain was even awarded a Legion of Merit "for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as commanding officer ...".

We can be assured by the statement of Iran's president that the responsible Iranian officer will receive no such a reward:

Cont. reading: Iranian Armed Forces Say They Inadvertently Shot Down The Ukrainian Plane - Updated

Posted by b at 4:21 UTC | Comments (614)

January 10, 2020

In Iraq The U.S. Is Again An Occupation Force As It Rejects To Leave As Demanded

Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi is following Iraq's Parliament decision to remove all foreign forces from Iraq. But his request for talks with the U.S. about the U.S. withdrawal process was answered with a big "F*** You":

Iraq’s caretaker prime minister asked Washington to start working out a road map for an American troop withdrawal, but the U.S. State Department on Friday bluntly rejected the request, saying the two sides should instead talk about how to “recommit” to their partnership.

Thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in the capital and southern Iraq, many calling on both Iran and America to leave Iraq, reflecting anger and frustration over the two rivals — both Baghdad’s allies — trading blows on Iraqi soil.

The request from Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi pointed to his determination to push ahead with demands for U.S. troops to leave Iraq, stoked by the American drone strike on Jan. 3 that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. In a phone call Thursday night, he told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that recent U.S. strikes in Iraq were an unacceptable breach of Iraqi sovereignty and a violation of their security agreements, his office said.

He asked Pompeo to “send delegates to Iraq to prepare a mechanism” to carry out the Iraqi Parliament’s resolution on withdrawing foreign troops, according to the statement.

“The prime minister said American forces had entered Iraq and drones are flying in its airspace without permission from Iraqi authorities, and this was a violation of the bilateral agreements,” the statement added.

The Associated Press errs when it says that the move was "stoked by the American drone strike on Jan. 3 that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani". The move was stoked five days earlier when the U.S. killed 31 Iraqi security forces near the Syrian border despite the demands by the Iraqi prime minister and president not to do so. It was further stoked when the U.S. assassinated Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes, the deputy commander of the Popular Militia Forces and a national hero in Iraq.

The State Department issued a rather aggressive response to Abdul-Mahdi's request:

Cont. reading: In Iraq The U.S. Is Again An Occupation Force As It Rejects To Leave As Demanded

Posted by b at 19:09 UTC | Comments (151)

Update On The Ukrainian Plane Incident Near Tehran

Reuters asks: "Who Ya Gonna Believe Me Or Your Lying Eyes?"

The trustworthy (not) news agency tweeted this yesterday:


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The crashed South African plane is pretty obviously a total loss but Reuters says that there is "no sign of major damage".

Reuters is a British agency and Brits do have a special kind of humor: "Tis but a scratch" and "Just a flesh wound" says the black knight (vid).

The Reuters tweet was not a mistake. The story on Reuters' website (screenshot) carries the same picture and headline.

The capture under the picture says:

Congolese aviation workers stand next to the wreckage of C-130 Hercules South African military plane that crash-landed at the Goma airport in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo January 9, 2020 REUTERS/Djaffer Al Katanty

The text of the article says:

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - A South African military plane crash-landed on Thursday at the Goma airport in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a U.N. spokesman said.

Videos on social media showed smoke rising from the airplane but two sources at the airport, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there did not appear to be major damage to the plane.

Reporting by Fiston Mahamba and Hereward Holland; Writing by Aaron Ross; editing by John Stonestreet

At least five Reuters people contributed to the story. The claim by the two sources it cites is obviously false. It still made it into the story and even into the headline. Twenty four hours later, even after it was mocked on Twitter, the story is still up.

Consider the above when you read reports in which anonymous officials allege that Iran shot down the Ukrainian flight PS 752 over Tehran.

Cont. reading: Update On The Ukrainian Plane Incident Near Tehran

Posted by b at 17:33 UTC | Comments (91)

January 09, 2020

Pentagon Accuses Iran Of Shooting Down A Ukrainian Plane But Its Evidence Is Flimsy

The Pentagon is accusing Iran's air defense of shooting down the Ukraninan plane that crashed yesterday near Tehran. The Pentagon says that it was an accidental incident. But the evidence on which the claim is based is flimsy.

We reported yesterday on flight PS752:

Hours after Iran had launched the missiles a Ukrainian airliner crashed three minutes after it had taken off from Tehran airport. All 176 people on board died. The passengers were mostly from Iran, Canada and the Ukraine. The airplane was a three years old Boeing 737-800 NG operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, the country's flag carrier. Video shows the burning airliner coming down on a glide path. Photos from the crash site show shrapnel like impacts on the fuselage. The evidence is consistent with an uncontained turbine disc rupture but other potential causes can not be ruled out. The incident will be investigated like all other airliner crashes.

In the update we added:

Higher quality daylight pictures of the crashed Ukrainian plane show that at least some of the "shrapnel impact holes" are not holes at all but are debris or dirt lying on top of the aircraft pieces. Additional pictures also show no evidence of an externally induced event.

The Flight Data Recorders of the airplane were found. Iran will download the data from them or, if it does not have that capability, will ask some other country (France?, Germany?) to do so. A preliminary accident report will be published after one month.

Newsweek now reports:

The Ukrainian flight that crashed just outside the Iranian capital of Tehran was struck by an anti-aircraft missile system, a Pentagon official, a senior U.S. intelligence official and an Iraqi intelligence official told Newsweek.
...
The aircraft is believed to have been struck by a Russia-built Tor-M1 surface-to-air missile system, known to NATO as Gauntlet, the three officials told Newsweek.

Two Pentagon officials assess that the incident was accidental. Iran's anti-aircraft were likely active following the country's missile attack, which came in response to the U.S. killing last week of Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, sources said.

How would an Iraqi intelligence official, likely controlled by the CIA, know what happened in Tehran? The evidence the reporter notes is not very convincing:

Cont. reading: Pentagon Accuses Iran Of Shooting Down A Ukrainian Plane But Its Evidence Is Flimsy

Posted by b at 18:49 UTC | Comments (340)

Open Thread 2020-02

For news & views not related to the recent U.S.-Iran conflict ...

Posted by b at 14:14 UTC | Comments (125)

January 08, 2020

Iran's Missile Launch Against Two U.S. Bases in Iraq Calls Trump's Bluff - Updated

Updated below

Last night Iran fired 22 Qiam missiles towards two U.S. bases in Iraq. Between 1:45 and 2:15 local time (~22:00 UTC) seventeen missiles hit the Ain al Assad airbase west of Ramadi. Five missiles were aimed at Erbil airport in the northern Kurdish region of Iraq. There were no casualties.

The Swiss embassy in Tehran, which represents the U.S., was warned at least one hour before the attack happened. Around 0:00 UTC the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) which prohibited civil U.S. flights over Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

This attack was the "open" and "proportional" response for the U.S. assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani which Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had promised. It will certainly not be the only response but represents the opening shot of a long and much more silent campaign to kick the U.S. out of the Middle East.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who had threatened to destroy 52 targets in Iran including cultural sites if Iran would take any revenge, seems to have understood that this attack was intentionally limited to avoid a larger war:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 2:45 UTC · Jan 8, 2020
All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.

The Qiam missiles Iran launched are a derivative of the Soviet Scud type. They are liquid fueled with a warhead of about 700 kilogram. They have a range of some 800 kilometer. Iran has more capable and precise solid fueled missiles it could have used.

The Ain al Assad airbase which was hit is where the drones that killed Soleimani and the Iraqi leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were launched from. Erbil airport is the logistic center for the U.S. forces in Syria.

Videos show the launch and the impact of the missiles.

No U.S. air or missile defense against the incoming projectiles was observed.

The message from Iran is thus: "We can attack all your bases and you can do nothing to prevent that."

Iran's leader said that the attack was "slap in the face" for the U.S. and that this military reaction to the U.S. crime is not the only one that will happen:

Cont. reading: Iran's Missile Launch Against Two U.S. Bases in Iraq Calls Trump's Bluff - Updated

Posted by b at 11:45 UTC | Comments (563)

January 07, 2020

Blowback From The Soleimani Assassination Increases As Iraq Reveals How Trump Tried To Steal Its Oil

The blowback from Trump's assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani and PMU leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis is increasing.  A scandal is developing as one consequence of Trump's evil deed after Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi revealed the gangster methods U.S. President Trump used in his attempts to steal Iraq's oil. Below we follow today's development.

The mourning for the assassinated Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani unfortunately caused even more suffering:

A stampede broke out Tuesday at a funeral for a top Iranian general killed in a U.S. airstrike, and at least 56 people were killed and more than 200 were injured as thousands thronged the procession, Iranian news reports said.

The stampede took place in Kerman, the hometown of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, as the procession began, said the semi-official Fars and ISNA news agencies, citing Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran’s emergency medical services.

Helicopter video had earlier shown that the street of Kerman were densely crowded with mourners. The actual funeral has now been postponed.

A U.S. paid anti-Iranian propagandist has turned out to claim that Qassem Soleimani was not really popular in Iran. It is easy to debunk such nonsense by pointing to the University of Maryland which does regular polls in Iran. In October 2019 it found:

General Soleimani remains the most popular Iranian public figure among those tested, with eight in ten viewing him favorably. Second is Foreign Minister Zarif, viewed favorably by two thirds. ...

Also this from Professor Abukhalil:

asad abukhalil أسعد أبو خليل @asadabukhalil - 17:29 UTC · Jan 6, 2020
This is the most stunning aspect of the rise of Iranian nationalism due to Trump’s decision to kill Suleimani. This would have been most unimaginable for many decades. The law of unintended consequences.
Quoted Tweet:
Roham Alvandi رهام الوندی @RohamAlvandiLSE -10:11 UTC · Jan 5, 2020
Ardeshir Zahedi, the foreign minister of Iran from 1966 to 1971 and the former son-in-law of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, describes Soleimani as a "patriotic and honourable soldier who was a son of Iran" and compares him to De Gaulle, Montgomery, MacArthur, and Eisenhower. Link to video.

This video from 2017 shows Soleimani consoling the daughter of a slain comrade at his funeral. Such scenes explain why Soleimani was so beloved.

The U.S. has denied Iran's Foreign Minister Jahvad Zarif a visa for a long planned visit to the UN in New York. Zarif responded by saying that he can talk to the U.S. people from Tehran. Today he proved that by giving a CNN interview:

Cont. reading: Blowback From The Soleimani Assassination Increases As Iraq Reveals How Trump Tried To Steal Its Oil

Posted by b at 17:40 UTC | Comments (475)

January 06, 2020

Axis Of Resistance Says How It Will Avenge Qassem Soleimani

The media continue to tell fairytales about Qassem Soleimani and about Trump's decision to assassinate him and PMU leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Meanwhile the Resistance Axis announced how it will avenge their deaths.

In their descriptions of Qassem Soleimani U.S. media fail to mention that Soleimani and the U.S. fought on the same side. In 2001 Iran supported the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. It used its good relations with the Hazara Militia and the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, which both the CIA and Iran had supplied for years, to support the U.S. operation. The Wikipedia entry for the 2001 uprising in Herat lists U.S. General Tommy Franks and General Qassem Soleimani as allied commanders.

The collaboration ended in 2002 after George W. Bush named Iran as a member of his "Axis of Evil".

In 2015 the U.S. and Iran again collaborated. This time to defeat ISIS in Iraq. During the battle to liberate Tikrit the U.S. air force flew in support of General Soleimani's ground forces. Newsweek reported at that time:

Cont. reading: Axis Of Resistance Says How It Will Avenge Qassem Soleimani

Posted by b at 18:56 UTC | Comments (351)

January 05, 2020

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-01

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis during a battle against ISIS

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Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-01

Posted by b at 17:29 UTC | Comments (249)

Iraqi Parliament Expels Foreign Militaries From Iraq

Updated throughout - 16:06 UTC

As predicted here, here and here:

The National @TheNationalUAE - 14:34 UTC · 5 Jan 2020
Iraqi Parliament has voted for ending the presence of foreign troops in Iraq, limiting arms to the Iraqi states and to lodge an official complaint against the US at the UN.

From the National report:

Parliament voted on a five-point action plan that would require the Iraqi government to end the presence of foreign troops in the country, and withdraw its request for assistance from the anti-ISIS global coalition. This would require new legislation to cancel the existing agreement.

Parliament also called on the government to ban the use of Iraqi airspace by any foreign power.

The Iraqi foreign minister has been directed to head to the UN to lodge an official complaint against the US strike.

The Iraqi Prime Minister and the whole cabinet supported the resolution.

Before the vote Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi told the parliament that he was scheduled to meet with Soleimani a day after his arrival to receive a letter from Iran to Iraq in response to a de-escalation offer Saudi Arabia had made. The U.S. assassinated Soleimani before the letter could be delivered by him. Abdul-Mahdi also said that Trump had asked him to mediate between the U.S. and Iran. Did he do that to trap Soleimani? It is no wonder then that Abdul-Mahdi is fuming.

The Prime Minister's letter to the General Secretary of the UN and the Secretary of the UNSC is here.

Foreign troops in Iraq included about 5,000 from the U.S. as well as a number of other NATO countries engaged in training Iraqi troops. There are also Turkish troops in north Iraq who fight against the PKK. Those will also have to leave but may not do so voluntarily.

Without any bases in Iraq the U.S. position in Syria will become untenable.

Elijah J. Magnier @ejmalrai - 14:40 UTC · Jan 5, 2020
#Iran #IRGC commander #QassemSoleimani managed to reach with his death what he couldn't reach when he was alive. That is his last spectacular act for Iran and for the "Axis of the Resistance": legislation forcing the US to withdraw and cease all kind of collaboration.

It is somehow ironic that the U.S. has spent lots of lives and money to "spread democracy" in Iraq only to be kicked out through an Iraqi  parliament vote.

There is a clear danger in this act. The Trump administration is now likely to see Iraq as completely in the Iranian camp. That never was and never will be true but that is how it will be seen. The U.S. may therefore again start to pay (with Saudi money?) Sunni extremists, i.e. ISIS, to change the current situation to its advantage.

That is one reason why I recommend to Iraq to invite Russia to train its army.

Posted by b at 15:09 UTC | Comments (286)

January 04, 2020

The Revenge For The Assassination Of Qassem Soleimani

The Trump administration is telling fairytales about its murder of Major General Qassem Soleimani. He was not planing any "imminent attacks" on the U.S. or its interests in Iraq. Reports which claim that while calling Katyusha rockets "sophisticated weapons" can obviously be ignored. In no way was Soleimani a legitimate target for a U.S. attack. No Orwellian State Department briefing can change that.

Fact is that Trump is following the plan of the Foundation of the Defense of Democracy (FDD) which was originally founded as EMET (Hebrew for "truth"), "to provide education to enhance Israel’s image in North America." Undercover video from Al Jazeerah caught the Israeli ex-intel official Sima Vakhnin-Gil in 2017 saying "We have FDD" when she was asked how Israel lobbies for its interests.

Dan Cohen @dancohen3000 - 5:23 UTC · Jan 4, 2020
FDD is an Israeli government front group. Trump mega donor Bernard “Iran is the devil” Marcus pays 1/3 of its budget. FDD advisor Richard Goldberg was appointed to National Security Council to push for attacking Iran. FDD continued to pay his salary.

FDD was tasked by Israel to instigate a U.S. war on Iran. Following FDD's plans Trump and his advisors are trying to provoke Iran to retaliate in a way that allows them to launch such a war.

There is a historic example of how Iran reacts to such U.S. provocations.

The U.S. attack:

Iran Air Flight 655 was a scheduled passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai via Bandar Abbas, that was shot down on 3 July 1988 by an SM-2MR surface-to-air missile fired from USS Vincennes, a guided missile cruiser of the United States Navy. The aircraft, an Airbus A300, was destroyed and all 290 people on board, including 66 children, were killed.

The Iranian retribution:

Pan Am Flight 103 was a regularly scheduled Pan Am transatlantic flight from Frankfurt to Detroit via London and New York. On 21 December 1988, N739PA, the aircraft operating the transatlantic leg of the route was destroyed by a bomb, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew in what became known as the Lockerbie bombing.

The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) claimed to be responsible for the bombing of the plane. It had used a Palestinian cutout in Lebanon to plant the bomb. But for political reasons the official investigation was manipulated and the blame for the Lockerbie bombing was put on Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi who had absolutely nothing to do with it.

The murder of the passengers and crew of Iran Air Flight 655 and the retribution for it were five and a half month apart. This gives us a hint of how long it might take for Iran to prepare the retribution for the U.S. assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani. There is also the political calender that has to be considered. If an Iranian revenge act is of a kind that could help Trump to get reelected it must wait until after the U.S. election. If the revenge act is of a kind that could hurt Trump's poll numbers it must come during the last few months of the campaign.

We will know that it has happened when this flag comes down:


video - bigger

Cont. reading: The Revenge For The Assassination Of Qassem Soleimani

Posted by b at 17:30 UTC | Comments (337)

January 03, 2020

U.S. Will Come To Regret Its Assassination of Qassim Soleimani

Today the U.S. declared war on Iran and Iraq.

War is what it will get.

Earlier today a U.S. drone or helicopter killed Major General Qassim Soleimani, the famous commander of the Iranian Quds ('Jerusalem') force, while he left the airport of Baghdad where he had just arrived. He had planned to attend the funeral of the 31 Iraqi soldiers the U.S. had killed on December 29 at the Syrian-Iraqi border near Al-Qaim.


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The Quds force is the external arm of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Soleiman was responsible for all relations between Iran and political and militant movements outside of Iran. Hajji Qassim advised the Lebanese Hisbullah during the 2006 war against Israel. His support for Iraqi groups enabled them to kick the U.S. invaders out of Iraq. He was the man responsible for, and successful in, defeating the Islamic State in iraq and Syria. In 2015 Soleimani traveled to Moscow and convinced Russia to intervene in Syria. His support for the Houthi in Yemen enabled them to withstand the Saudi attackers.


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Soleimani had arrived in Baghdad on a normal flight from Lebanon. He did not travel in secret. He was picked up at the airport by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes, the deputy commander of the al-Hashd al-Shaabi, an official Iraqi security force under the command of the Iraqi Prime Minister. The two cars they traveled in were destroyed in the U.S. attack. Both men and their drivers and guards died.

Cont. reading: U.S. Will Come To Regret Its Assassination of Qassim Soleimani

Posted by b at 9:05 UTC | Comments (513)

January 02, 2020

What Will The Trump Administration Do When Iraq Asks U.S. Troops To Leave?

The reports about the current events in Iraq miss the root cause of the crisis.

During last summer there were several large explosions on bases held by the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF/PMU/Hashed) in Iraq. These were either caused by extreme summer heat or by Israeli air attacks launched from U.S. bases in Iraq or Syria. Most PMF leaders believe that the second is the case.

There were also drone attacks on positions held by PMF at the Syrian Iraqi border at Abu Kamal/Al-Qa'im. These were likewise attributed to Israel which allegedly flew the drones from U.S. bases in northeast Syria.

The alleged aim of these operations was to disrupt the land route for material coming from Iran and going to Syria. Several dozens PMF members  were wounded during the incidents.

It was after these attacks that a small campaign of revenge attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq began. These were mostly wild mortar or small missile shots which created little damage. In total some 17 such attacks happened. The U.S. alleged, without giving any evidence, that the missiles used were smuggled in from Iran and used by Iran supported forces against the U.S. No evidence was ever produced to support those allegation.

The PMF/PMU are Iraqi troops and part of the Iraqi military establishment. They are under command of the Iraqi prime minister. The Iraqi state pays their salaries. They have their own munition supplies and do not depend on Iran. It is quite possible that some of the PMU members took shots at U.S. bases in revenge for the explosions in their bases without any order or support from Iran.

On December 12 the Carnegie Middle East Center asked several 'experts' how the U.S. should react to the attacks which it alleges come from Iran.

Michael Knights, a 'senior fellow' at the Washington Institute which is part of the Israel lobby, responded:

Cont. reading: What Will The Trump Administration Do When Iraq Asks U.S. Troops To Leave?

Posted by b at 18:45 UTC | Comments (241)

December 31, 2019

The MoA Year In Review

The big stories of 2019 which Moon of Alabama covered were:

  • The vindication of Donald Trump by the Mueller and Horowitz 'Russiagate' investigations. The Democrats, driven by the security state, then continued their coup attempt against Trump by impeaching him over 'Ukrainegate'.
  • The slow but continuing retreat of the U.S. from the Middle East demonstrated by its lack of reaction even after the attack on the Saudi oil installations and the shooting down of a large U.S. drone by Iran.

My predictions on these issue for next year are:

  • The unreasonable campaign against Trump will hurt the Democrats in the 2020 elections. Unless something unforeseeable happens Trump will be reelected.
  • The U.S. will pull its troops out of Iraq and Syria.
  • The MAX will not be allowed back into the air unless Boeing ditches MCAS and finds a better way to make the plane certifiable.
  • Mainstream media have suppressed all news about the OPCW scandal. This will only change if major new evidence comes to light.

 

May all of you have a happy new year!

Posted by b at 15:45 UTC | Comments (167)

December 30, 2019

After U.S. Strike On Iraqi Forces Its Troops Will (Again) Have To Leave

Within Syria @WithinSyriaBlog - 17:43 UTC · Dec 29, 2019
Trump just made the mistake of his presidency.

That may be true or may be not true. Here is what happened.

On Friday a volley of some 30 107mm Katyusha rockets hit the K1 base which houses Iraqi and U.S. troops near Kirkuk, Iraq. One U.S. mercenary/contractor died, two Iraqi and four U.S. soldiers were wounded. Instead of finding the real culprits - ISIS remnants, disgruntled locals, Kurds who want to regain control over Kirkuk - the U.S. decided that Kata'ib Hizbullah was the group guilty of the attack.

Kata'ib Hizbullah is a mostly Shia group with some relations to Iran. It is part of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) which were founded and trained by Iran to stop and defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) when it occupied nearly a third of Iraq and Syria. KH is like all PMU units now under command and control of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.

To take revenge for the death of one of its mercenaries the U.S. air force attacked five camps where Kata'ib Hizbullah and other Iraqi forces were stationed:

In response to repeated Kata'ib Hizbollah (KH) attacks on Iraqi bases that host Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) coalition forces, U.S. forces have conducted precision defensive strikes against five KH facilities in Iraq and Syria that will degrade KH's ability to conduct future attacks against OIR coalition forces.

The five targets include three KH locations in Iraq and two in Syria. These locations included weapon storage facilities and command and control locations that KH uses to plan and execute attacks on OIR coalition forces.

All of the KH positions that were hit were in the western Anbar desert, 450 kilometer away from Kirkuk. KH has bases on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border where it is engaged in fighting the still active ISIS. The results of the air strikes were devastating:

Elijah J. Magnier @ejmalrai - 6:20 UTC · Dec 30, 2019
32 killed and 45 wounded the count of #US violent aggression on #Iraq security forces brigades 45 and 46 last night on a military position established to counter-attack and raid #ISIS remnant at al-Qaem, the borders between Iraq and Syria.

The al-Qaem/al-Bukamal border station is the only open one between Iraq and Syria which is not under U.S. control. The U.S. was furious when the Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul Mahdi allowed it to be established. It was previously attacked by Israel which had launched its assault from a U.S. air force base in east Syria.

TØM CΛT @TomtheBasedCat - 6:11 UTC · Dec 29, 2019
It wasn't just Hezbollah Battalions members who were affected, there are also wounded among the ranks of the Missiles Forces / Rocket Battalion which is considered a separate unit apart from the numbered brigades.

The dead include Abu Ali Madiniyah, the commander of the 1st battalion of the 45th Brigade.

The strikes were in total disregard of Iraqi sovereignty and against forces under direct command of the Iraqi state:

Cont. reading: After U.S. Strike On Iraqi Forces Its Troops Will (Again) Have To Leave

Posted by b at 8:03 UTC | Comments (204)

December 29, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-78

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Confirms our take:
For Wall Street, Russia Has Become ‘Bulletproof’ - Forbes

>“They’ve made themselves bulletproof,” says James Barrineau, co-head of emerging-market debt for Schroders Investment in New York. “They can pay off all their foreign debts with their central bank reserves. Plus, they’re cutting interest rates. The currency is very stable. And they have room on the fiscal side to spend on their economy.”<

Related:

MOHAMMED HASSAN @MHJournalist - 18:42 UTC · Dec 28, 2019
A video shows members of the #Syrian_National_Army mercenaries fighting in #Libya in conjunction with the advance of the #Syrian army forces over the city of #Maarat_al_Numan and its countryside in #Idlib

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Other issues:

Russia has received a lot of criticism over the bombing of alleged 'hospitals' in Syria which were registered on a UN sponsored list. The Russian military argued that the positions on the UN list were not of real hospitals but of ammunition depots or command centers of the Jihadis. After it had published dozens of articles bashing Russia's campaign the New York Times has finally admitted that Russia was right:

The U.N. Tried to Save Hospitals in Syria. It Didn’t Work.

United Nations officials only recently created a unit to verify locations provided by relief groups that managed the exempt sites, some of which had been submitted incorrectly, The Times found. Such instances of misinformation give credibility to Russian criticisms that the system cannot be trusted and is vulnerable to misuse.
...
The groups give locations of their own choosing to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the agency that runs the system.

A document prepared by the agency warned that participation in the system “does not guarantee” the safety of the sites or their personnel. The document also stated that the United Nations would not verify information provided by participating groups.
...
While investigating an airstrike in November, The Times discovered that a relief group had provided coordinates for its health center that were around 240 meters away. When another hospital was bombed in May, The Times found that the coordinates submitted by its supporting organization pointed to an unrelated structure around 765 meters north.

After questions from The Times prompted the organization to review its deconfliction list, a staff member discovered that it had provided the United Nations with incorrect locations for 14 of its 19 deconflicted sites. The original locations had been logged by a pharmacist. The list had been with the United Nations humanitarian agency for eight months, and no one had contacted the organization to correct the locations, a member of the organization’s staff said.

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 15:42 UTC | Comments (76)

December 28, 2019

Open Thread 2019-77

News & views ...

Posted by b at 14:40 UTC | Comments (122)

December 27, 2019

Turkey's Military Intervention In Libya Might Help Syria

The Turkish intervention in Libya might develop into a major international crisis as each side in the 'civil' war in Libya has several international supporters.

Turkey is now taking serious steps to move troops and equipment to Libya:

Turkey will introduce a bill to send troops to Libya as soon as Parliament resumes, in response to the country's invitation, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Thursday.

Speaking at a meeting of provincial heads at the headquarters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the capital Ankara, Erdoğan said the military mandate to send troops to Libya will be on Parliament's agenda when it resumes early January.

He also criticized countries supporting the East Libya-based warlord Khalifa Haftar rather than Fayez al-Sarraj.

Reuters noted that there is no public record of the 'invitation' Erdogan talked about:

It was unclear what specific invitation Erdogan was referring to as the interior minister in the Tripoli-based government, Fathi Bashagha, suggested in comments to reporters in Tunis that no official request had yet been made.

Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and several west European countries support the anti-Muslim Brotherhood forces under Khalifa Haftar who controls most of Libya (red). Qatar and Turkey have taken the Islamists' side. Fayez al-Sarraj controls little more than Tripoli and Misrata (blue). He originally had UN and EU support but the lack of progress since 2015, when Sarraj's Government of National Accord was formed, has weakened his authority and his international support.


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Cont. reading: Turkey's Military Intervention In Libya Might Help Syria

Posted by b at 15:22 UTC | Comments (51)

December 24, 2019

Christmas

Long before Christianity evolved, people celebrated the winter solstice as the end of the dark times and the coming of light. Roman Christianity moved the day on which it commemorates the birth of Jesus to the winter solstice. It replaced a holiday of older religions. The deeper meaning stayed. Hope for a new beginning, needed as much today than ever. Hope that the walls of darkness will come down.


Picture courtesy of the Bethlehem Association

Like every Christmas I visit my larger family and enjoy to cook for them. I have much fun with the kids. Their minds are untouched from the dark policies we often discuss here. They are open for new insights and challenges. Their curiosity encourages us to be likewise open for new ideas.

I wish you all a contemplative, hope- and peaceful Christmas.

Bernhard

Posted by b at 17:00 UTC | Comments (137)

December 23, 2019

U.S. Media Bias Creates False Pictures Of Russia

The latest Putin bashing piece in the New York Times is headlined:

It’s Putin’s World. We Just Live in It.
Its economy is sputtering and its young are frustrated, but with America and Europe in tumult, Russia and its leader of two decades are on a roll.

Its first sentence already includes two falsehoods:

Its economy, already smaller than Italy’s, may be sputtering but, two decades after a virtually unknown former K.G.B. spy took power in the Kremlin on Dec. 31, 1999, Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin, have just had what could be their best year yet.

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The NYT can claim that Russia's GDP is smaller than Italy's because it only looked at the nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of those countries. But nominal GDP like nominal wages are not meaningful comparisons. The question is how much can be bought for each nominal unit.

Andrei Martyanov has recently looked at two quite comparable houses, one near Moscow and one near Washington DC. The Russian house costs some $93,000 while the U.S. one is offered for $440,000:

Cont. reading: U.S. Media Bias Creates False Pictures Of Russia

Posted by b at 14:32 UTC | Comments (194)