Jun 042013
 

Russia Today

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Mokrushin)

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Mokrushin)

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that “political games” prevented Russia from investigating the data on the use of toxic substances in Aleppo: the UN Secretariat couldn’t respond promptly to Moscow’s demand to look into the matter.

In March, the Syrian government invited the United Nations to investigate possible chemical weapons use in the Khan al-Assal area of rural Aleppo. Military experts and officials said a chemical agent, most likely sarin, was used in the attack which killed 26 people, including government forces.

A boy, affected in what the government said was a chemical weapons attack, is treated at a hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo March 19, 2013. (Reuters / George Ourfalian)

A boy, affected in what the government said was a chemical weapons attack, is treated at a hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo March 19, 2013. (Reuters / George Ourfalian)

Several countries, including Israel, the UK, France and the US – all vocal critics of Syrian President Bashar Assad – all claimed they had evidence that chemical weapons were used in Syria.

Damascus denied that a chemical attack was carried out by the Syrian army, blaming the rebels and Turkey for the incident: “The rocket came from a placed controlled by the terrorist and which is located close to the Turkish territory. One can assume that the weapon came from Turkey,” Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi alleged in an interview with Interfax news agency.

Lavrov spoke following the reports that Turkish security forces found a 2kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front who were previously detained.

The sarin gas was found in the homes of alleged Syrian militants, who were reportedly planning a terrorist attack on the southern Turkish city of Adana.

Russia expressed concern over the incident, urging for a thorough investigation into the matter.

Almost a month ago, the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad said that Damascus was ready to have the UN investigation team look into alleged chemical weapons use in Syria.

“We were ready and we are always ready, right now, to receive the delegation that was set up by [UN Secretary-General] Ban Ki-moon to investigate what happened in Khan al-Assal,” Muqdad said, referring to the March 19 incident near Aleppo.

Syrian rebels are accused of using a rocket with a chemical warhead, killing 25 people and injuring 86, according to SANA news agency.

Meanwhile, the US and Germany spoke to Russia on the perils of sending Assad any sort of support, arguing it would prolong the war and jeopardize efforts to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, with his German counterpart Guide Westervelle, urged Russia not to supply Assad with its sophisticated S-300 air defense missile system – among other reasons, arguing that it would threaten Israel’s security. Westervelle called the decision “totally wrong”.

Kerry has been actively promoting the upcoming Geneva conference on Syria, having met with Lavrov earlier – although planning has been muddled by the opposition threatening to boycott the talks. Despite this, Western powers have repeatedly chosen to overlook the opposition’s actions as an obstacle.

Still, both Russia and the US remain committed to the talks, with Kerry insisting “If everybody is serious, and we are, and the Russians have said they are, the best chance to save Syria… is through a peaceful resolution that comes about in an organized way.”

Westervelle also pleaded with both sides “not to spoil the conference.”

The Syrian civil war has been raging for more than two years now, with more than 80,000 people killed, according to UN estimates.

In his latest statement on the matter, Lavrov noted the Russian government’s concern over the issue due to the chance of provocations around the situation.

Continue reading »

Apr 112013
 

New York Times
C.J. Chivers
Eric Schmitt

With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.

As it evolved, the airlift correlated with shifts in the war within Syria, as rebels drove Syria’s army from territory by the middle of last year. And even as the Obama administration has publicly refused to give more than “nonlethal” aid to the rebels, the involvement of the C.I.A. in the arms shipments — albeit mostly in a consultative role, American officials say — has shown that the United States is more willing to help its Arab allies support the lethal side of the civil war.

From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. The C.I.A. declined to comment on the shipments or its role in them.

The shipments also highlight the competition for Syria’s future between Sunni Muslim states and Iran, the Shiite theocracy that remains Mr. Assad’s main ally. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed Iraq on Sunday to do more to halt Iranian arms shipments through its airspace; he did so even as the most recent military cargo flight from Qatar for the rebels landed at Esenboga early Sunday night.

Syrian opposition figures and some American lawmakers and officials have argued that Russian and Iranian arms shipments to support Mr. Assad’s government have made arming the rebels more necessary.

Most of the cargo flights have occurred since November, after the presidential election in the United States and as the Turkish and Arab governments grew more frustrated by the rebels’ slow progress against Mr. Assad’s well-equipped military. The flights also became more frequent as the humanitarian crisis inside Syria deepened in the winter and cascades of refugees crossed into neighboring countries.

The Turkish government has had oversight over much of the program, down to affixing transponders to trucks ferrying the military goods through Turkey so it might monitor shipments as they move by land into Syria, officials said. The scale of shipments was very large, according to officials familiar with the pipeline and to an arms-trafficking investigator who assembled data on the cargo planes involved.

“A conservative estimate of the payload of these flights would be 3,500 tons of military equipment,” said Hugh Griffiths, of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, who monitors illicit arms transfers.

“The intensity and frequency of these flights,” he added, are “suggestive of a well-planned and coordinated clandestine military logistics operation.”

Although rebel commanders and the data indicate that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had been shipping military materials via Turkey to the opposition since early and late 2012, respectively, a major hurdle was removed late last fall after the Turkish government agreed to allow the pace of air shipments to accelerate, officials said.

Simultaneously, arms and equipment were being purchased by Saudi Arabia in Croatia and flown to Jordan on Jordanian cargo planes for rebels working in southern Syria and for retransfer to Turkey for rebels groups operating from there, several officials said.

These multiple logistics streams throughout the winter formed what one former American official who was briefed on the program called “a cataract of weaponry.”

American officials, rebel commanders and a Turkish opposition politician have described the Arab roles as an open secret, but have also said the program is freighted with risk, including the possibility of drawing Turkey or Jordan actively into the war and of provoking military action by Iran.

Still, rebel commanders have criticized the shipments as insufficient, saying the quantities of weapons they receive are too small and the types too light to fight Mr. Assad’s military effectively. They also accused those distributing the weapons of being parsimonious or corrupt.

“The outside countries give us weapons and bullets little by little,” said Abdel Rahman Ayachi, a commander in Soquor al-Sham, an Islamist fighting group in northern Syria.

He made a gesture as if switching on and off a tap. “They open and they close the way to the bullets like water,” he said.

Two other commanders, Hassan Aboud of Soquor al-Sham and Abu Ayman of Ahrar al-Sham, another Islamist group, said that whoever was vetting which groups receive the weapons was doing an inadequate job.

“There are fake Free Syrian Army brigades claiming to be revolutionaries, and when they get the weapons they sell them in trade,” Mr. Aboud said.

The former American official noted that the size of the shipments and the degree of distributions are voluminous.

“People hear the amounts flowing in, and it is huge,” he said. “But they burn through a million rounds of ammo in two weeks.”

A Tentative Start

The airlift to Syrian rebels began slowly. On Jan. 3, 2012, months after the crackdown by the Alawite-led government against antigovernment demonstrators had morphed into a military campaign, a pair of Qatar Emiri Air Force C-130 transport aircraft touched down in Istanbul, according to air traffic data.

They were a vanguard.

Weeks later, the Syrian Army besieged Homs, Syria’s third largest city. Artillery and tanks pounded neighborhoods. Ground forces moved in.

Across the country, the army and loyalist militias were trying to stamp out the rebellion with force — further infuriating Syria’s Sunni Arab majority, which was severely outgunned. The rebels called for international help, and more weapons.

By late midspring the first stream of cargo flights from an Arab state began, according to air traffic data and information from plane spotters.

On a string of nights from April 26 through May 4, a Qatari Air Force C-17 — a huge American-made cargo plane — made six landings in Turkey, at Esenboga Airport. By Aug. 8 the Qataris had made 14 more cargo flights. All came from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, a hub for American military logistics in the Middle East.

Qatar has denied providing any arms to the rebels. A Qatari official, who requested anonymity, said Qatar has shipped in only what he called nonlethal aid. He declined to answer further questions. It is not clear whether Qatar has purchased and supplied the arms alone or is also providing air transportation service for other donors. But American and other Western officials, and rebel commanders, have said Qatar has been an active arms supplier — so much so that the United States became concerned about some of the Islamist groups that Qatar has armed.

The Qatari flights aligned with the tide-turning military campaign by rebel forces in the northern province of Idlib, as their campaign of ambushes, roadside bombs and attacks on isolated outposts began driving Mr. Assad’s military and supporting militias from parts of the countryside.

As flights continued into the summer, the rebels also opened an offensive in that city — a battle that soon bogged down.

The former American official said David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director until November, had been instrumental in helping to get this aviation network moving and had prodded various countries to work together on it. Mr. Petraeus did not return multiple e-mails asking for comment.

The American government became involved, the former American official said, in part because there was a sense that other states would arm the rebels anyhow. The C.I.A. role in facilitating the shipments, he said, gave the United States a degree of influence over the process, including trying to steer weapons away from Islamist groups and persuading donors to withhold portable antiaircraft missiles that might be used in future terrorist attacks on civilian aircraft.

American officials have confirmed that senior White House officials were regularly briefed on the shipments. “These countries were going to do it one way or another,” the former official said. “They weren’t asking for a ‘Mother, may I?’ from us. But if we could help them in certain ways, they’d appreciate that.”

Through the fall, the Qatari Air Force cargo fleet became even more busy, running flights almost every other day in October. But the rebels were clamoring for even more weapons, continuing to assert that they lacked the firepower to fight a military armed with tanks, artillery, multiple rocket launchers and aircraft.

Many were also complaining, saying they were hearing from arms donors that the Obama administration was limiting their supplies and blocking the distribution of the antiaircraft and anti-armor weapons they most sought. These complaints continue.

“Arming or not arming, lethal or nonlethal — it all depends on what America says,” said Mohammed Abu Ahmed, who leads a band of anti-Assad fighters in Idlib Province.

The Breakout

Soon, other players joined the airlift: In November, three Royal Jordanian Air Force C-130s landed in Esenboga, in a hint at what would become a stepped-up Jordanian and Saudi role.

Within three weeks, two other Jordanian cargo planes began making a round-trip run between Amman, the capital of Jordan, and Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, where, officials from several countries said, the aircraft were picking up a large Saudi purchase of infantry arms from a Croatian-controlled stockpile. Continue reading »

Apr 112013
 

Global Research
William Blum

Would you believe that the United States tried to do something that was not nice against Hugo Chávez?

chavez2

Wikileaks has done it again. I guess the US will really have to get tough now with Julian Assange and Bradley Manning.

In a secret US cable to the State Department, dated November 9, 2006, and recently published online by WikiLeaks, former US ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, outlines a comprehensive plan to destabilize the government of the late President Hugo Chávez. The cable begins with a Summary:

During his 8 years in power, President Chavez has systematically dismantled the institutions of democracy and governance. The USAID/OTI program objectives in Venezuela focus on strengthening democratic institutions and spaces through non-partisan cooperation with many sectors of Venezuelan society.

USAID/OTI = United States Agency for International Development/Office of Transition Initiatives. The latter is one of the many euphemisms that American diplomats use with each other and the world – They say it means a transition to “democracy”. What it actually means is a transition from the target country adamantly refusing to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs to a country gladly willing (or acceding under pressure) to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs.

OTI supports the Freedom House (FH) “Right to Defend Human Rights” program with $1.1 million. Simultaneously through Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), OTI has also provided 22 grants to human rights organizations.

Freedom House is one of the oldest US government conduits for transitioning to “democracy”; to a significant extent it equates “democracy” and “human rights” with free enterprise. Development Alternatives Inc. is the organization that sent Alan Gross to Cuba on a mission to help implement the US government’s operation of regime change.

OTI speaks of working to improve “the deteriorating human rights situation in” Venezuela. Does anyone know of a foreign government with several millions of dollars to throw around who would like to improve the seriously deteriorating human rights situation in the United States? They can start with the round-the-clock surveillance and the unconscionable entrapment of numerous young “terrorists” guilty of thought crimes.

“OTI partners are training NGOs [non-governmental organizations] to be activists and become more involved in advocacy.”

Now how’s that for a self-given license to fund and get involved in any social, economic or political activity that can sabotage any program of the Chávez government and/or make it look bad? The US ambassador’s cable points out that:

OTI has directly reached approximately 238,000 adults through over 3000 forums, workshops and training sessions delivering alternative values and providing opportunities for opposition activists to interact with hard-core Chavistas, with the desired effect of pulling them slowly away from Chavismo. We have supported this initiative with 50 grants totaling over $1.1 million.

“Another key Chavez strategy,” the cable continues, “is his attempt to divide and polarize Venezuelan society using rhetoric of hate and violence. OTI supports local NGOs who work in Chavista strongholds and with Chavista leaders, using those spaces to counter this rhetoric and promote alliances through working together on issues of importance to the entire community.”

This is the classical neo-liberal argument against any attempt to transform a capitalist society – The revolutionaries are creating class conflict. But of course, the class conflict was already there, and nowhere more embedded and distasteful than in Latin America.

OTI funded 54 social projects all over the country, at over $1.2 million, allowing [the] Ambassador to visit poor areas of Venezuela and demonstrate US concern for the Venezuelan people. This program fosters confusion within the Bolivarian ranks, and pushes back at the attempt of Chavez to use the United States as a ‘unifying enemy.’

One has to wonder if the good ambassador (now an Assistant Secretary of State) placed any weight or value at all on the election and re-election by decisive margins of Chávez and the huge masses of people who repeatedly filled the large open squares to passionately cheer him. When did such things last happen in the ambassador’s own country? Where was his country’s “concern for the Venezuelan people” during the decades of highly corrupt and dictatorial regimes? His country’a embassy in Venezuela in that period was not plotting anything remotely like what is outlined in this cable.

The cable summarizes the focus of the embassy’s strategy’s as: “1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.” 1

The stated mission for the Office of Transition Initiatives is: “To support U.S. foreign policy objectives by helping local partners advance peace and democracy in priority countries in crisis.” 2

Notice the key word – “crisis”. For whom was Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela a “crisis”? For the people of Venezuela or the people who own and operate United States, Inc.?

Imagine a foreign country’s embassy, agencies and NGOs in the United States behaving as the American embassy, OTI, and NGOs did in Venezuela. President Putin of Russia recently tightened government controls over foreign NGOs out of such concern. As a result, he of course has been branded by the American government and media as a throwback to the Soviet Union.

Under pressure from the Venezuelan government, the OTI’s office in Venezuela was closed in 2010.

For our concluding words of wisdom, class, here’s Charles Shapiro, US ambassador to Venezuela from 2002 to 2004, speaking recently of the Venezuelan leaders: “I think they really believe it, that we are out there at some level to do them ill.” 3

The latest threats to life as we know it

Last month numerous foreign-policy commentators marked the tenth anniversary of the fateful American bombing and invasion of Iraq. Those who condemned the appalling devastation of the Iraqi people and their society emphasized that it had all been a terrible mistake, since Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein didn’t actually possess weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This is the same argument we’ve heard repeatedly during the past ten years from most opponents of the war.

But of the many lies – explicit or implicit – surrounding the war in Iraq, the biggest one of all is that if, in fact, Saddam Hussein had had those WMD the invasion would have been justified; that in such case Iraq would indeed have been a threat to the United States or to Israel or to some other country equally decent, innocent and holy. However, I must ask as I’ve asked before: What possible reason would Saddam Hussein have had for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide? He had no reason, no more than the Iranians do today. No more than the Soviets had during the decades of the Cold War. No more than North Korea has ever had since the United States bombed them in the early 1950s.

Yet last month the new Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, announced that he would strengthen United States defenses against a possible attack by [supposedly] nuclear-equipped North Korea, positioning 14 additional missile interceptors in Alaska and California at an estimated cost of $1 billion. So much for the newest Great White Hope. Does it ever matter who the individuals are who are occupying the highest offices of the US foreign-policy establishment? Or their gender or their color?

“Oh,” many people argued, “Saddam Hussein was so crazy who knew what he might do?” But when it became obvious in late 2002 that the US was intent upon invading Iraq, Saddam opened up the country to the UN weapons inspectors much more than ever before, offering virtually full cooperation. This was not the behavior of a crazy person; this was the behavior of a survivalist. He didn’t even use any WMD when he was invaded by the United States in 1991 (“the first Gulf War”), when he certainly had such weapons. Moreover, the country’s vice president, Tariq Aziz, went on major American television news programs to assure the American people and the world that Iraq no longer had any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons; and we now know that Iraq had put out peace feelers in early 2003 hoping to prevent the war. The Iraqi leaders were not crazy at all. Unless one believes that to oppose US foreign policy you have to be crazy. Or suicidal.

It can as well be argued that American leaders were crazy to carry out the Iraqi invasion in the face of tens of millions of people at home and around the world protesting against it, pleading with the Bush gang not to unleash the horrors. (How many demonstrations were there in support of the invasion?)

In any event, the United States did not invade Iraq because of any threat of an attack using WMD. Washington leaders did not themselves believe that Iraq possessed such weapons of any significant quantity or potency. Amongst the sizable evidence supporting this claim we have the fact that they would not have exposed hundreds of thousands of soldiers on the ground.

Nor can it be argued that mere possession of such weapons – or the belief of same – was reason enough to take action, for then the United States would have to invade Russia, France, Israel, et al. Continue reading »

Mar 312013
 

SANA

PRAGUE, (SANA)- Ex-CNN reporter Amber Lyon revealed that during her work for the channel she received orders to send false news and exclude some others which the US administration did not favor with the aim to create a public opinion in favor of launching an aggression on Iran and Syria.

Lyon was quoted by the Slovak main news website as saying that the mainstream US media outlets intentionally work to create a propaganda against Iran to garner public opinion’s support for a military invasion against it.

She revealed that the scenario used before launching the war on Iraq is being prepared to be repeated where Iran and Syria are now being subject to constant ‘demonization’.

The former reporter clarified that the CNN channel manipulates and fabricates news and follows selectiveness when broadcasting news, stressing that the Channel receives money from the U.S. government and other countries’ governments in exchange for news content.

H. Said

Continue reading »

Feb 082013
 

PressTV

US Vice President Joe Biden (file photo)

 

The US claim that it is ready to hold direct talks with Iran is utterly preposterous as America’s deep-rooted policy of anti-Iran pressures contradict the very tenets of reciprocal interaction, political analysts tell Press TV.

At the 49th annual Munich Security Conference in Germany on February 2, the US Vice President Joe Biden said Washington was ready to hold direct talks with Iran over the country’s nuclear energy program.

However, he noted that “there will be continued pressure and isolation,” insisting that if Iran abandons “the illicit nuclear program and your support for terrorism, there will be meaningful incentives.”

In a strong response, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei lashed out at the idea of any talks with the United States under pressure and threats.

“I am not a diplomat. I am a revolutionary and speak frankly, honestly, and firmly. An offer of talks makes sense only when the side [that makes the offer] shows its goodwill,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a Thursday meeting with the officials and commanders of Iran’s Navy.

“You (the Americans) point the gun at Iran and say either negotiate or we pull the trigger! You should know that pressure and negotiations don’t go together, and that the [Iranian] nation will not be intimidated by such things,” the Leader added.

Analysts believe that Biden’s repeated allegations of Iran’s “illicit nuclear program” come while the Islamic Republic has categorically rejected such allegations. On the other hand, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has never found any evidence during its inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities to support the US and Israel’s claims that Tehran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Moreover, as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, Iran is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Political analysts also argue that Biden has adopted a diversionary tactic by portraying Iran’s support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the Palestinian resistance groups and the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as Tehran’s “support for terrorism.”

They say by resorting to an ambiguous concept such as “terrorism,” Biden seeks to compel Iran to salvage the US from the quagmire it is facing in Syria, Afghanistan, Gaza, etc.

“We, of course, understand their (the Americans’) need for negotiations, because the Middle East policy of the Americans has failed, and in order to compensate for this failure, they need to play a trump card,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in his Thursday speech.

The Leader noted that taking Iran to the negotiating table is the trump card that the US needs, adding that Washington seeks to tell the world it has good will. “However, no one sees any goodwill.”

Biden has also claimed that, even according to Iranian officials, the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council have been “the most robust sanctions in history.” This is while political observers have repeatedly noted that the most “barbaric” and “inhuman” pressures and sanctions against a nation have been actually imposed on Iran not by the UN, but by the US and the European Union.

“We’ve also made clear that Iran’s leaders need not sentence their people to economic deprivation and international isolation,” Biden added.

Following the West’s sanctions on Iran’s banking sector, the import of more than 50 types of medicines required for people who suffer from certain diseases such as cancer, children’s cancer, thalassemia, multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as respiratory and heart diseases, has drastically declined.

Prominent international lawyers such as Francis Boyle contend that Iran is entitled to file a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice against the US, France, the UK and their allies, on behalf of all Iranian citizens being harmed by illegal and political economic sanctions.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Biden noted that the US policy with regard to Iran’s nuclear energy program “is not containment,” but is aimed at preventing “Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

He made the comments while, according to UN figures, the US — which is the only country that has ever used atomic bombs against human beings — has conducted 1,032 nuclear tests since 1945.

The United States also plans to treat its 5,113-strong arsenal of nuclear warheads to the costliest modernization process ever, with a projected expenditure estimated to stand at USD352 billion.

The stockpile houses seven types of weapons while upgrading only the B61 thermonuclear bombs is likely to cost USD10 billion over five years, while Washington would have to lavish USD110 billion to build 12 replacements for the aging Ohio-class submarines.

At the Munich conference, the US vice president also stated that “There is still space for diplomacy, backed by pressure, to succeed. The ball is in the government of Iran’s court.”

Ayatollah Khamenei, however, refuted Biden’s remarks, and noted, “The ball is in your court, because you should answer the question of whether speaking of negotiations at the same time as continuing pressure and threats makes any sense at all.”

Continue reading »

Feb 022013
 

Yahoo

London, Jan 30 (ANI): The Obama administration gave green signal to a chemical weapons attack plan in Syria that could be blamed on President Bashar al Assad’s regime and in turn, spur international military action in the devastated country, leaked documents have shown.

A new report, that contains an email exchange between two senior officials at British-based contractor Britam Defence, showed a scheme ‘approved by Washington’.

As per the scheme ‘Qatar would fund rebel forces in Syria to use chemical weapons,’ the Daily Mail reports.

Barack Obama made it clear to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad last month that the U.S. would not tolerate Syria using chemical weapons against its own people.

According to Infowars.com, the December 25 email was sent from Britam’s Business Development Director David Goulding to company founder Philip Doughty.

The emails were released by a Malaysian hacker who also obtained senior executives resumes and copies of passports via an unprotected company server, according to Cyber War News.

According to the paper, the U.S. State Department has declined to comment on the matter. (ANI)

Continue reading »

Jan 312013
 

Associated Press
Ben Hubbard

DAMASCUS AIRSTRIKE

Map locates Jamraya, Syria

BEIRUT (AP) — Israel conducted a rare airstrike on a military target inside Syria near the border with Lebanon, foreign officials and Syrian state TV said Wednesday, amid fears President Bashar Assad’s regime could provide powerful weapons to the Islamic militant group Hezbollah.

Regional security officials said Israel had been planning in the days leading up to the airstrike to hit a shipment of weapons bound for Hezbollah, Lebanon’s most powerful military force and a sworn enemy of the Jewish state. Among Israeli officials’ chief fears is that Assad will pass chemical weapons or sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah — something that could change the balance of power in the region and greatly hinder Israel’s ability to conduct air sorties in Lebanon.

The regional officials said the shipment Israel was planning to strike included Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which would be strategically “game-changing” in the hands of Hezbollah by enabling the group to carry out fiercer attacks on Israel and shoot down Israeli jets, helicopters and surveillance drones. A U.S. official said the strike hit a convoy of trucks but did not give an exact location.

The Syrian military confirmed the strike in a statement read aloud on state TV, but it said the jets bombed a military research center in the area of Jamraya, northwest of the capital, Damascus, and about 15 kilometers (10 miles) from the border with Lebanon.

The statement said the center was responsible for “raising the level of resistance and self-defense” of Syria’s military. It said the strike destroyed the center and a nearby building, killing two workers and wounding five others.

The Syrian army statement denied that the strike had targeted a convoy headed from Syria to Lebanon, instead portraying the strike as linked to the civil war pitting Assad’s forces against rebels seeking to push him from power.

“This proves that Israel is the instigator, beneficiary and sometimes executor of the terrorist acts targeting Syria and its people,” the statement said.

The Israeli military declined to comment, and the location could not be independently confirmed because of reporting restrictions in Syria.

Hezbollah has committed to Israel’s destruction and has gone to war against the Jewish state in the past. Syria has long been among the militant group’s most significant backers and is suspected of supplying with funding and arms, as well as a land corridor to Iran.

This strike also comes as Syria is enmeshed in a civil war. The rebels have seized a large swath of territory in the country’s north and established footholds in a number of Damascus suburbs, though Assad’s forces still control the city and much of the rest of the country.

While Assad’s fall does not appear imminent, analysts worry he could grow desperate as his power wanes and seek to cause trouble elsewhere in the region through proxy groups like Hezbollah.

Syria’s government portrays the crisis, which started with political protest in 2011 and has since become a civil war, as a foreign-backed conspiracy meant to destroy the country.

Top Israeli officials have recently expressed worries that Assad’s regime could pass chemical weapons to Hezbollah or other militant groups.

President Barack Obama has called Syria’s use of chemical weapons a “red line” whose crossing could prompt a tougher U.S. response, but U.S. officials say they are tracking Syria’s chemical weapons and that they still appear to be under regime control.

The strike, carried out either late Tuesday or early Wednesday, appears to be the latest move in a long running race by Hezbollah to increase its military power while Israel seeks to limit it.

Continue reading »

Jan 242013
 

Daily Bell

Clinton Shouts: ‘What Difference … Does It Make?’ … Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about ascertaining whether the Benghazi terror attack was the result of a protest by Senator Ron Johnson. “What difference, at this point, does it make?” Clinton shouted, seemingly losing her cool. “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?” – Weekly StandardDominant Social Theme: Can’t we all get along … and just move on?

Free-Market Analysis: Hillary Clinton testified before the US Congress yesterday and suggested, as Bill Clinton used to do, that legislators just “move on.”

Ms. Clinton’s urgency in this regard may not only be because she wants to remove the focus of the investigation from how an American diplomat died but also because the entire episode seems to have been A botched propaganda campaign.

No one is pointing this out, of course, not these days. But we recall quite clearly that the initial story reported by the US media was that the people of Libya were incensed about a movie, “Desert Warrior,” AKA “The Innocence of Muslims.”

From what we can tell, the movie was yet another US Intel-instigated false flag. The idea was to show the American people once again how bestial and brutal Middle Easterners can be. The proximate cause was this movie; the point to be made was that certain Libyans (pro-Gaddafi ones) would riot over a poorly made film.

But something went wrong. In our humble view, it was the alternative media that made the false flag impossible to pursue. When the back story was revealed, it became obvious that this cinematic enterprise was not what it seemed. At the time, we wrote the following, here:

***

We are supposed to believe that the sudden religious blaze in the Middle East that just took the life of a US ambassador and three of his staff members was the result of an obscure movie.

This movie was so unknown that it could hardly generate views on YouTube. Then a strange preacher, Terry Jones, began to promote the movie and brought it to the world’s attention. Here’s Wikipedia on Jones:

Terry Jones (born October 1951) is the pastor of Dove World Outreach Center, a small fundamentalist Christian church in Gainsville, Florida. He first gained national and international attention in 2010 for his plan to burn Qur’ans, the scripture of the Islamic religion, on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. He is a self-declared independent presidential candidate in the 2012 U.S. Presidential election.

Jones sounds like a big shot but his total congregation is reportedly 50 … fifty!

As for the man who produced the movie that has set the Mideast aflame, he was said initially to be a Jew and claimed that the movie was funded by “100 Jews.”

This is perhaps the way the elites and their allies work. They want the Jews blamed first and foremost. The alternative media for its own reasons too often plays into the hands of this premeditated meme.

In any case, the filmmaker, self-identified as an Israeli-American property developer, Sam Bacile, has a spokesperson, a friend. Reuters reports this friend is Steven Klein, “a southern California man in the insurance business … [who] described himself as a consultant and a spokesman for the project – but not the filmmaker.” Klein believes Bacile’s name is a pseudonym.

“I’ve met him twice, I don’t know what country he’s from. I do know he’s not an Israeli Jew and I can only guess he threw that out to protect his family, which I do know is back in the Middle East,” Klein told Reuters in an interview in front of his home in Hemet, California, as he sipped a beer.

And who is Klein? He is a former US Marine who said he advised the filmmaker to go into hiding. Regardless of whether Bacile hides or not, his identity is being revealed.

*** Continue reading »

Oct 202012
 

Washington Post
Craig Whitlock

The U.S. government is intensifying its intelligence sharing and military consultations with Turkey behind the scenes as both countries confront the possibility that Syria’s civil conflict could escalate into a regional war, according to U.S. and NATO officials.
The Obama administration has said it wants to avoid getting drawn militarily into Syria and for months has resisted pressure from Arab allies and some Republicans to back Syria’s rebel groups more forcefully.

But as Syria’s internal conflict has increasingly spilled across its northern border into Turkey, the U.S. government has stepped up cooperation with its key NATO ally. In recent weeks, military officials from both countries have met to make contingency plans to impose no-fly zones over Syrian territory or seize Syria’s stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, U.S. officials said.
U.S. intelligence agencies were also the source of a tip that led the Turkish military to intercept and ground a Syrian passenger plane en route from Moscow to Damascus last week on suspicions that it was carrying Russian-made military hardware, according to U.S. officials.
The Syrian plane was carrying “radar and electrical parts for Syria’s Russian-made antiaircraft systems,” one U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the sensitive operation. Syria has relied on Russia for decades to help build its radar and antiaircraft defenses, among the most extensive in the Middle East.
The plane grounding sparked a diplomatic dust-up among Turkey, Russia and Syria and further exacerbated tensions that erupted Oct. 3 when Syria fired shells across the border and killed five Turkish civilians.
Since then, cross-border shelling has continued as the Syrian military has attacked rebel groups along the frontier, with rounds sometimes landing in Turkish territory. Turkey has retaliated with artillery strikes, most recently on Friday, while warning Damascus that the risk of all-out war is increasing.
The United States and NATO have publicly supported Turkey, saying it has a right to act in self-defense. At the same time, they have called for restraint and repeated that neither Washington nor Brussels has any intention of getting involved militarily.
Behind the scenes, however, the border clashes have changed the strategic calculus and led U.S. military and intelligence officials in particular to collaborate more closely with Turkey.
“I can certainly assure you that our militaries, our military officers, are in contact,” Francis J. Ricciardone Jr. , the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, told journalists in Ankara on Tuesday. “This week I know there is a special focus of our military experts talking about Syria. And what militaries do well is plan for every contingency and every eventuality.”

Ricciardone said “no political decision has been made” regarding whether to support or impose a no-fly zone in Syrian territory to protect civilians or opponents of the government of Bashar al-
Assad in Damascus, but he acknowledged that U.S., Turkish and NATO officials were discussing options.

“Will we consider it?” he said. “We consider everything.”
Ricciardone did not provide details about the recent U.S.-Turkish military talks regarding Syria. But his comments came after Adm. James Stavridis, the chief of the U.S. European Command and the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO military forces, visited Ankara and Izmir in early October.

Stavridis did not speak with reporters, but he posted a message on his Facebook account saying that he met with Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz and Gen. Necdet Ozel, Turkey’s top military commander, to hold “important talks considering the events transpiring in the Levant.”
A NATO official confirmed that Stavridis discussed the increasing volatility of the Turkish-Syrian border but said that Turkey has not made any formal requests for military assistance from either NATO or Washington.
For now, Turkey primarily wants statements of public support from NATO and reassurances that the alliance would come to its aid if necessary, said Ross Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey who now serves as director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council in Washington.
“A big part of what they’re looking for is that I’d call political support as opposed to NATO sending in fighter squadrons or thousands of troops,” Wilson said. But he added that Turkey also wants the U.S. and NATO to demonstrate willingness to update military preparations and planning in case events along the Syrian border quickly spiral out of control.
“In their eyes, there’s a whole bunch of scenarios that could result in outside involvement, but they don’t see anybody talking about it as much as they’d like,” Wilson said.
The Obama administration has said that it would likely intervene if Assad’s government engaged in chemical or biological warfare, and Pentagon officials have said they are monitoring the whereabouts of Syria’s stockpiles of those weapons.
With a presidential election looming, however, the administration has said it is pushing first for a political solution to the Syrian civil war. It has pressed the United Nations Security Council to take action, even though Russia and China, which hold veto power, have resisted.
With the United Nations paralyzed, Turkey may lean on NATO to intervene even without a U.N. mandate, possibly by imposing a no-fly zone or haven for Syrian refugees if the civil war worsens, said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. More than 100,000 Syrian refugees have sought shelter in Turkey.
“NATO is the new U.N. for Ankara when it comes to Syria,” he said.
He acknowledged that many European members of NATO, distracted by the continent’s economic crisis, would be reluctant to become involved. But he said one alternative would be for select NATO members — such as the United States, France and Britain — to assist Turkey with a military intervention, while other allies remain on the sidelines.
“It could be a ‘coalition of the fighting’ within NATO,” Cagaptay said. That was the approach NATO took last year when it ousted Libya’s former ruler, Moammar Gaddafi.
Greg Miller in Washington and Michael Birnbaum in Brussels contributed to this report.

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