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April 18, 2024

Palestine Open Thread 2024-113

Only for news & views directly related to the war in Palestine.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 14:20 UTC | Comments (262)

Ukraine Open Thread 2024-112

Only for news & views directly related to the war in Ukraine.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 14:19 UTC | Comments (283)

Open (Neither Ukraine Nor Palestine) Thread 2024-111

News & views (not related to the wars in Ukraine and Palestine) ...

Posted by b at 14:18 UTC | Comments (193)

U.S./EU Lobby Against Georgian Law That Would Reveal Their Secret Influence

The government of Georgia has tried for some time to implement a law "On transparency of foreign influence”. Its aim is to publicly identify organizations and parties who receive a significant amount of their budget from abroad:

The draft law “In order to ensure transparency”, initiated for the second time by the Georgian Dream faction, envisages the registration of such non-entrepreneurial (non-commercial) legal entities and media outlets, whose income – more than 20% – is received from abroad as an organization carrying out the interests of a foreign power. According to the project, everyone who is considered an “organization carrying the interests of a foreign power” must be registered in the public register under the same name in a mandatory manner. At the time of registration, it will be necessary to reflect the received income. At the same time, the organizations will have the obligation to fill in the financial declaration every year.

Those organization who currently receive money from the various U.S. or EU government or non-government organizations are of course not amused that they will have to reveal their association with such sources. They want to lobby for foreign positions without being identified as foreign influencers.

They have therefore launched protests against their country's government and parliament which has passed the law in the first reading. Two further readings will be required to finalize the law.

The protesters against the law claim that it is a "Russian law" against "foreign agents".

Since 2012 Russia does have a law that is somewhat similar to what Georgia is attempting to implement but such type of laws are certainly not a Russian intervention:

Supporters of the [Russian version of the] law have likened it to similar legislation in the US that requires lobbyists employed by foreign governments to reveal their financing.

The U.S. equivalent to the Russian and Georgian law is of course the much older Foreign Agents Registration Act:

Cont. reading: U.S./EU Lobby Against Georgian Law That Would Reveal Their Secret Influence

Posted by b at 13:12 UTC | Comments (79)

April 17, 2024

Iran And Saudi Arabia - A Common Future Looking East

In March 2023 Iran and Saudi Arabia restored their diplomatic ties with each other. The deal had been mediated by China.

As I remarked at that time:

This is huge!
Reviving relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran will make a lot of new things possible.

That Iran and Saudi Arabia accepted China's mediation is a recognition of Beijing's new standing in world policies. That alone is enough reason for the White House to hate the deal.

I later summarized the diplomatic action in the Middle East:

For the last 30 years the U.S. considered the Middle East as its backyard. Twenty years ago it illegally invaded Iraq and caused 100,000nds of death and decades of chaos. Now China, by peaceful means, changed the balance in the Middle East within just one month.
Xi and Putin are now running the multilateral global show. Biden and the hapless 'unilateral' people around him are left aside., which translates everything into Persian, Arabic and English, has published a piece written by two academics from Iran and Saudi Arabia. Such cooperation is still rare. This can then be seen as a semi-official explanation and/or vision of those countries' global policies.

The piece confirms the loss of U.S. influence and the rise of China's role in the Middle East:

How Gaza war is pushing the region eastward

The unwavering US support for Israel’s war on Gaza has left a bitter taste in the region.  Anger is mounting not only in the Arab world but also across the Global South, over what is seen as western double standards towards Israel’s continued onslaught. There is a unified demand for a ceasefire and sharp criticism of what it viewed as unchecked Israeli aggression.
One main trend of regional dynamics in recent years has been a pivot to the east. Underscoring this shift, Iran and Saudi Arabia in Mar. 2023 struck a deal to resume diplomatic ties in a historic agreement brokered by China. In particular, Beijing’s role in the breakthrough sent a clear message to Washington that it is not the only diplomatic heavyweight in the region.

Both Iran and Saudi Arabia have their own individual reasons for prioritizing better relations with their neighbors. For Tehran, getting closer to Riyadh presents a unique opportunity to break free from its economic isolation—after enduring years of US sanctions—by diversifying economic and political partnerships.
For Saudi Arabia, looking east is part and parcel of its ambitious Vision 2030—an extensive reform plan aimed at diversifying its economy. China, India, and Russia are key partners in realizing this vision, given their expansive trading relations with Riyadh. [...]

Cont. reading: Iran And Saudi Arabia - A Common Future Looking East

Posted by b at 16:13 UTC | Comments (100)

Dmitry Medvedev's Speech On Russia's Strategic Borders

One may not like Russia or even feel hostile towards its current policies and leadership.

But that should not hinder one to recognize and acknowledge how Russia is seeing itself and it defines its own role in the wider world.

The former Russian president Dimitry Medvedev is currently the deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia recently spoke about multiple definitions of borders.

Medvedev has lately become a bit of the bad guy who spits the harsh truth with the good guy being Russia's President Vladimir Putin who is using less vitriolic language. But if one removes the rhetoric chaff the concepts espoused by both in various speeches are quite similar and should be seen as the basis of Russia's policies.

The Russian magazine Expert reproduced an edited version (in Russian) of Medvedev's speech (machine translation):

Dmitry Medvedev: "Russia, like any great power, has strategic borders far beyond geographical ones"

The speech presents a Russian view on the border concept along six theses.

Below are some excerpts which I believe deserve a further discussion:

First. We don't need someone else's land. We will never give up on our own. So it was and so it will be. This is the principle that governs our state border policy.

Cont. reading: Dmitry Medvedev's Speech On Russia's Strategic Borders

Posted by b at 8:40 UTC | Comments (242)

April 16, 2024

Ukraine SitRep: The Power Plant War - Ideological Losses - More Signs Of Corruption

The Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenski is lobbying Congress through U.S. media for more weapons and monetary support. It requires him to finally depict the situation as dire as it is:

Speaking to the PBS news hour on Tuesday, April 16, Zelensky underlined Ukraine’s air defences' critical condition.

“I'll give you a very simple example,” he said.

“Eleven missiles were launched towards the Trypillya [thermal power] station, upon which the electricity supply in the Kyiv region depends. We managed to intercept the first seven, but the remaining four hit Trypillya. Why? Because we had zero missiles left. We have exhausted all the missiles that were defending Trypillya,” the President added.
In response to the targeting of critical infrastructure, Zelensky used this example to once again call upon Ukraine’s allies to urgently supply the weapons Kyiv needs, particularly air defense launchers and missiles.

“Frankly speaking, without this assistance, we stand little chance of victory, because we need to be significantly stronger than our adversaries. The current ratio of artillery shells stands at 1 to 10. Can we endure for much longer? No,” Zelensky said.

It is good to see that Zelenski is finally noticing the situation Ukraine is in.

The electricity infrastructure is indeed a critical point. John Helmer, via Naked Capitalism, suggest that Russia is using the destruction of Ukrainian power plants to press for its unconditional surrender.

Helmer quotes the Colonel Cassad blog site:

Boris Rozhin, whose Colonel Cassad military blog broadly represents General Staff thinking, reports the operational breakthrough demonstrated on April 11, and explains what the maps of current targeting foreshadow for the next round of strikes, and the rounds after that. Rozhin republishes his analysis from RT, the state media organ.

“By the evening of April 11, Ukrainian sources reported that air-launched X-69 missiles could be used to hit the Tripolskaya TPP [Thermal Power Plant]. So far, there is no confirmation of this information, but it is worth studying these missiles in more detail. Their range is almost 20 times less than that of the X-101 missiles [equivalent to about 250-500 kilometres], the carriers of which are strategic aircraft of the Aerospace Forces [Tu-95]. In their [X-69] function, they are closer to the foreign [Anglo-French] Storm Shadow/SCALP missiles, which are being attempted for strikes on the Crimean Bridge. The [X-69’s] long range of the 300 km could be enough if the launches of missiles were carried out from the territory of the Bryansk region. If the use of missiles is confirmed in the future, it will mean that no energy facility of the Ukraine on the Dnieper River can work safely, and the strike capabilities of the Aerospace Forces have multiplied.”

The lack of power supply is not the only unsolvable problem Zelenski has.

The situation at the frontline is deteriorating. One of the critical sectors in now Chasiv Yar, some 10 kilometer west of Bakhmut, where the Russian forces recently managed to make some crucial progress.

Chasiv Yar - April 1 2024


Cont. reading: Ukraine SitRep: The Power Plant War - Ideological Losses - More Signs Of Corruption

Posted by b at 15:04 UTC | Comments (257)

April 15, 2024

The Resistance Axis Penetrated The Zionist Security Screen

On October 7 2023 Hamas breached the fence around Gaza. It infiltrated military installations and Kibbutzes with the intent to take as many hostages as possible. These were to be taken into Gaza for future prisoner exchanges.

Despite local warnings the leadership of the Zionist entity was surprised by the move. Its overreaction and the Hannibal directive led to the death of many hostages.

The event was a shock to the Israeli public. It had felt secure. October 7 and the six months of fighting in Gaza and at the northern border have changed that.

But the danger so far came only from mere militia, Hizbullah and Hamas. While those are capable they do lack the instruments of a full fledged nation state.

Still overconfident of its own capabilities the leadership of the Zionist entity made a second mistake. It had already attacked Iranian envoys in Syria and Lebanon. It topped that with an attack on the Iranian embassy in Syria. It did not expect Iran to respond to it.

But pushed by its own population Iran had to respond. It had to do so in a way that was convincing but would not lead to further escalations. A very difficult to achieve balance.

Its attack on Israeli airbases in the Negev and a Mossad base on the Golan heights were successful despite the facts that:

  • Israel and everybody else was warned of the strike
  • several Israeli allies - the U.S., UK, France, Jordan - added their significant means to help Israeli air defenses
  • the targets were one of the most difficult to strike.

As Scott Ritter opines:

Cont. reading: The Resistance Axis Penetrated The Zionist Security Screen

Posted by b at 13:20 UTC | Comments (806)

April 14, 2024

Palestine Open Thread 2024-110

Only for news & views directly related to the war in Palestine.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 13:18 UTC | Comments (215)

Ukraine Open Thread 2024-109

Only for news & views directly related to the war in Ukraine.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 13:17 UTC | Comments (294)

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2024-108

Last weeks posts on Moon of Alabama:

Middle East:



Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2024-108

Posted by b at 12:45 UTC | Comments (202)

Iranian Missiles Hit Israel

Iran fired several hundred drones, cruise and ballistic missiles towards Israel.

With the help of the U.S., UK and Jordan most of the incoming items were intercepted.

The expense of several hundred of air defense missiles, at a cost of more than $1 billion, was significant as these are currently hard to get items. More such attacks would soon deplete those which are left.

Iran's missiles, for which the drones flew cover, hit their targets. The Nevatim Air Base (vid) and the Ramon airbase (vid), both located in the Negev desert, experienced impacts.

How big the damage was can only be noted after fresh satellite pictures come in.

This is a good chance for both sides to declare victory.

Iran can claim that it successfully penetrated Israel's air defense and hit appropriate targets in revenge for the Israeli attack on Iran's embassy in Damascus.

Israel can claim that it has successfully defended its assets.

Israel may want to hit back on Iran. It would be stupid to do so.

Added: From a reliable analyst of the resistance axis:

Cont. reading: Iranian Missiles Hit Israel

Posted by b at 10:56 UTC | Comments (196)

April 13, 2024

Iran's Retaliation Delay Keeps Pressure On U.S. And Israel

Earlier today the navy of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp boarded and seized the container ship MSC Aries near the Strait of Hormuz. The ship is operated by Zodiac Maritime, a company owned by the Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.

The seizure of the ship can be understood as a warning to the U.S. and its Gulf allies to not get any funny ideas and to attack Iran. A closure of the Strait of Hormuz would increase global oil prices and jeopardize Biden's re-election.

Iran has announced to revenge the Israeli attack on its embassy building in Damascus, Syria.

But it did not announce when, where or how it will retaliate.

By holding back on any hints it increases the anxiety in Israel and Washington DC.

“The pressure is now on Israel and the US rather than Iran. And yes, there are a lot of threatening remarks directed at Iran in the hope that the Iranians don’t act. But the die was first cast by Israel,” said Vali Nasr, a professor of international affairs at John Hopkins University.

“And now people are trying to avoid what might be consequences.”

Biden does not want the US to be pulled into a war with Iran, particularly as he seeks reelection in November. But Washington’s default policy has long been to support Israel, Nasr added.

Would a real superpower ever do this (archived)?

The US has asked China and other countries, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, to urge Tehran not to launch a retaliatory attack on Israel for its air strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria.

Neither of the countries asked has any reason to be helpful to the U.S. and certainly not to Israel.

The costs of keeping the watch up and the weapons manned will over time become unbearable for Israel as well as for the U.S.

It is thus better for Iran to wait with any bigger retaliation it may plan to carry out.

Posted by b at 13:30 UTC | Comments (684)

April 12, 2024

Russia Expects 'Unconditional Capitulation' Of Kiev Regime

During yesterday's UN Security Council meeting Vasily Nebenzya, the Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, said:

"This is how it will go down in history - as an inhuman and hateful regime of terrorists and Nazis who betrayed the interest of their people and sacrificed it for Western money and for Zelenski and his closest circle.

In these conditions, attempts by the head of the Kiev regime to promote his formula and convene summits in support of the Kiev regime cause only confusion.

Very soon the only topic for any international meetings on Ukraine will be the unconditional capitulation of the Kiev regime.

I advise you all to prepare for this in advance."

Posted by b at 7:42 UTC | Comments (574)

April 11, 2024

Ukraine - To Hurt Russia Means Pain For Ukraine

Ukraine is trying to hurt Russia by hitting its refineries. But the attacks fail to have the desired effects on Russia.  The Russian response though, in form of de-energization attacks on Ukraine, seriously endanger the state.

Today the Russian Federation continued with the de-energization of Ukraine (machine translation):

As a result of a massive Russian missile attack on the night of April 11 , the Trypillya thermal power plant in the Kiev region was completely destroyed.
Located in the city of Ukrainka, Trypillia thermal power station was commissioned in 1973 and became the most powerful power plant in the Kiev region. It was also the largest supplier of electricity to the Kiev, Cherkasy and Zhytomyr regions.

Since the Zmiyevskaya TPP in the Kharkiv region was completely destroyed on March 22, and Russian troops occupied the Uglegorsk TPP in the Donetsk region on July 25, 2022, Centrenergo has now lost 100% of its generation.

After the complete destruction of the Trypillya TPP, the network recalls the statement of Centrenergo from August 2023 that the facility is equipped with physical protection "at 100%".

At the same time, it was reported that 70% of the work at the Zmievskaya TPP was completed. This facility was also destroyed by shelling in March of this year.

DTEK, another power supply company in Ukraine, also reported significant losses:

Cont. reading: Ukraine - To Hurt Russia Means Pain For Ukraine

Posted by b at 13:53 UTC | Comments (283)

April 10, 2024

Palestine Open Thread 2024-107

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The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 17:40 UTC | Comments (199)

Ukraine Open Thread 2024-106

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The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 17:40 UTC | Comments (191)

Open (Neither Ukraine Nor Palestine) Thread 2024-105

News & views (not related to the wars in Ukraine and Palestine) ...

Posted by b at 14:32 UTC | Comments (453)

April 09, 2024

Ukraine Open Thread 2024-104

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The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 14:49 UTC | Comments (196)

Israel To Launch Major Escalation?

At Naked Capitalism Yves Smith links (thank you) to yesterday's Moon of Alabama piece:

Two Israeli Actions Misfired, Pushed Netanyahoo Into Retreat

She comments:

IMHO, this is a premature call. Israel so far has made only small-beer placating moves. Per above, it is doubling down on attacking Rafah, something the Biden Administration has noisily opposed.

Well, may be.

Yves also says this:

Someone with very strong diplomatic contacts described a specific, major escalation that Israel is primed to make. Would make the Iran embassy strike look like peanuts in terms of ripple effects. Am hoping to get a post from him. It would be hard to think the region does not wind up in a major conflagration if he is correct.


A direct attack on Iran?

Or what else might that major escalation be?


Posted by b at 14:28 UTC | Comments (387)