Monday, September 30, 2013

[ed notes:ill update much more way later on tonight..very busy now..sorry...

Kenya terror attack: Putting the Westgate siege in context

Horace G Campbell (2013-09-26)The Somali militant group Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the September 21 attack at an upmarket shopping mall in Nairobi in which dozens of people were killed. Progressives must intensify their opposition to extremists who manipulate Islam, but also reject the imperial forces inside Africa and their alliesTHE FUTURE OIL BONANZA IN SOMALIA

In the past two years the news from Somalia has been dominated by the information that there could be as much as 110 billion barrels of oil and gas off the shores of Somalia. There is also likely to be vast natural gas reserves in Somali waters in the Indian Ocean. Fields containing an estimated 100 trillion cubic feet of gas have been found off Mozambique and Tanzania. British politicians and British oil companies have been the most active in seeking to corner the future exploration of this oil and it is not by accident that the most recent conferences on the future of Somalia has been held in London and hosted by David Cameron, the Prime Minister and head of the Conservative Party of Britain. One of the first companies to have signed a contract with the Government of Somalia is the front for British petroleum interests that is now registered as Soma Oil & Gas Exploration Ltd. This company was recently founded in the United Kingdom and its chairman is Michael Howard, a former leader of the Conservative Party. We are also informed that CEO Robert Sheppard has experience as an adviser for the U.K. oil company BP PLC (LON: BP) in Russia.

Very soon after the long transition and the more than fifteen meetings to organize a sensible form of governance in Somalia, the British moved in to muscle out an African as the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for Somalia. Nicholas Kay has emerged as the SRSG for Somalia at a moment when Britain is seeking to dominate the institutions and organizations that will have control over the decision making processes for the oil and gas exploration in Somalia. From the moment of the decomposition of the Somalia government and the manipulation of the military entrepreneurs by western forces, Britain had been cooling its heels working with the political elements in that section of Somalia that had been colonized by Britain after the Berlin Conference. During the colonial era Britain had used this region to provide meat for its troops in the Gulf and British Somaliland was governed from India.

British oil companies for decades had knowledge of the massive oil reserves off the coast of Somalia and the British teased the ‘leaders’ of Somaliland with the gesture that they would recognize this secessionist region as a breakaway state. Pan Africanists will remember that at the Berlin Conference in 1885 the peoples of Somalia were divided in to five areas (French Somaliland, -now called Djibouti, British Somaliland, Italian Somaliland, the Ethiopian areas of Somalia –in the Ogaden and the Somalia peoples who were located in what came to be known as Kenya), There are up to 300,000 citizens of Somali extraction in Europe and while the racism of Britain alienates the more than 100,000 Somali youth, Britain is opportunist and when Mo Farah won the gold medal for the 10,000m at the London 2012 Olympics, the British press forgot the jingoism that alienated and confused many youth of Somali extraction who yearned for some purpose in their lives.

British newspapers and politicians had showered praises on the breakaway region telling them that this was a region of peace in a haven of violent Somalia. However, the British always had their eyes on the massive oil resources. Some foreign companies signed deals with the breakaway governments of Puntland and Somaliland but these entities were never recognized by the African Union.

For about ten years the British were waiting in Somaliland until they knew that Ugandans had cleaned up the situation and many Africans died. They were quite willing for Africans (Ugandans and Burundians) to die in the AMISOM operation while the western P3 members of the Security Council quibbled over how much money the UN should spend on the peacekeeping force in Somalia. Nicholas Kay, the new SSRG, has traveled to the General Assembly this week to lobby for more resources for AMISOM, presumably because it will be important to guard the British nationals who will be flocking to Mogadishu. Kay is by no means a small player in the British political establishment. Before he was deployed to Mogadishu as the SSRG he had been the Africa Director at the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Prior to this position at the FCO, he served as Ambassador to the Republic of the Democratic of the Congo and the Sudan from 2007 to 2010 and 2010 to 2012, respectively. He was also the United Kingdom’s Regional Coordinator for Southern Afghanistan and Head of the Provincial Reconstruction Team for Helmand Province from 2006 to 2007. In short, he has the experience of serving British interests in war zones. There are numerous other British elements in the interstices of the United Nations system working to ensure the ascendancy of British interests.


The US form of warfare in Somalia had followed the new template of drones, local militia forces, private military contractors and third party countries. In the war in Libya, this form of warfare had been used with the army of Qatar acting as the third party country. In Somalia; Uganda had been the country most willing to serve imperial interests after the Ethiopians had invaded to oust the Union of Islamic Courts. The historic differences between Somalia and Ethiopia ensured that Ethiopia could not be a real force for peace, especially in the very undemocratic and repressive conditions inside Ethiopia. Ugandans deployed more than 6000 fighters to Mogadishu and hundreds lost their lives. The Ugandans and Burundians formed the bulk of the African Union Peace Keeping forces (AMISOM) that drove Al Shabaab out of Mogadishu

The reports from the families in Uganda were that hundreds, if not thousands of Ugandans lost their lives in the forms of battle that raged from street to street and alley to alley in Somalia. Reports of the fighting were that it was similar to the kind of warfare of 1914-1918. While this fighting was going on, the western countries were opposed to financing the AMISOM mission and were quite willing and ready to have Africans die in the streets of Mogadishu as it turns out now to serve the interests of western oil companies.

If Museveni was a front for the US military in Somalia, by the time the body bags were being flown back to Kampala, Museveni had his own interest in ensuring that the violent extremists in Somalia were decapitated. Museveni worked closely with Augustine Mahiga who had moved from the safety of Nairobi when he took up the position of SRSG in 2010. Both Mahiga and Museveni had worked closely with Nyerere and both had been on the periphery of the Dar es Salaam school in the era of Walter Rodney, Issa Shivji and the period when all operatives in Tanzania identified with the African liberation project. When Britain wanted to get the position of SRSG, the campaign of disinformation intensified about the diplomatic and military capabilities of their African allies such as Mahiga and Museveni.

After the Ugandans died in the hundreds, the Western military lobby moved against Augustine Mahiga the Special Representative of the Secretary General. Mahiga is a Tanzanian and he worked hard from Mogadishu while the European members of the UN team spend their time in Nairobi. There had been a struggle between Germany, Norway, Britain and South Africa to get this SRSG post that can be like the neo-colonial governor in Mogadishu. Kay won out using the British special relationship with the USA to succeed.

The Norwegians wanted the position of SRSG and promised $30 million in aid to the new Somalia government, but the British muscled out the Norwegians. The secessionist state of Somaliland had signed a production sharing agreement with DNO, a Norwegian oil and gas company, but British interests were working hard against Norway. Enter David Cameron who became the champion for the convening of conferences to reconstruct Somalia. This very same Cameron who had been attacking Somali nationals in Britain as the forces that ensured that multiculturalism does not work was the same who dispatched William Hague to Mogadishu in n 2012. The Prime Minister of Turkey, Edrogan had been the first leader of a foreign government to visit Mogadishu in 2011 and Britain wanted to be counted as a state that supported the people of Somalia. More recently in September 2013, there was the convening of a special EU New Deal for peace meeting in Brussels. The European Union pledged 650 million euros to help Somalia's peace and rebuilding process but after one read the fine print one could see that most of what was said amounted to pledges. The British Department for International Development (DFID) rolled out and published its own commitments made in the meeting but when the sums were added it did not come to the $30 that had been pledged by Norway and rejected by the Government of Somalia in favor of the British promises.


The heavy fighting to remove Al Shabaab from Mogadishu had been undertaken by Ugandans and Burundians but in September/October 2011, the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) invaded Somalia under the banner of Linda Nchi (Kiswahili for defend the nation). At the time of the Kenyan incursion in 2011, I had written in Pambazuka that the intended remilitarization of Africa will fail. I had written,

“The government of Kenya has declared that it will end its military campaign against Al-Shabaab in Somalia when it is satisfied it has stripped the group of its capacity to attack across the border. If one goes by the experience of the past 18 years, then this statement can be read that Kenya will be in for a long-term deployment to Somalia. The corollary to this is the reality that Kenya and its cities will be spaces of war, security clampdown and general destabilisation of the population. Since the Kenyan foray, there have been two grenade attacks at a bar and a bus terminal that killed one person and wounded more than 20 people in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. These attacks have already affected the tourism industry, one of the most important sources of revenue for the government of Kenya.”

From the books mentioned above we have read that the Kenyan incursion into Somalia had been planned long in advance by the KDF and that the Kenyans were looking for the most opportune time to justify the incursion into Somalia. The international media blitz about famine, refugees and Al Shabaab in 2011 provided the right background for the Kenyan people to support the KDF into Somalia. Kenyans had been lukewarm towards the military after the security forces had failed to protect innocent civilians after the violence of 2008.

The political leaders of Kenya had been working with French companies to map out the future of the recovery of oil resources in Kenya on land and offshore. There had been disputes between Kenya and the Federal Transition Government of Somalia over the Exclusive Economic Zones of Kenya and Somalia. Both countries had produced competing maps to lay claim to the EEZ off the coast of Southern Somalia. The Kenyan forces had collaborated with a questionable military entrepreneur of the Ras Kamboni group and the Ugandans were not happy that Kenya had intervened in Somalia after hundreds of Ugandans had already lost their lives.
[ed notes;click link for whole article..just citing few excerpts..

Shabak Nabs Alleged Iranian Spy–Surprise!–Same Day Bibi Leaves for UN to Skewer Iran


The Israeli Shabak announced (and in Hebrew) with a flourish today that on September 11th it had apprehended an alleged Iranian spy who had been working on behalf of the Iran Revolutionary Guards.  He is Ali Mansuri, 55, a dual Belgian-Iranian citizen.  He went by the name Alex Mans when he entered Israel.  He was born in Iran and lived there until 1980.  Then he emigrated to Turkey, where he lived till 1997 as a businessman.  Then, Belgium offered him a visa to reside there and continue his business activities.  In 2006, he applied for and received Belgian citizenship by marrying a Belgian citizen from whom he was later divorced.
Because of his dual nationality, Mansuri was an especially attractive target for Iranian intelligence.  It should be remembered that the Mossad too recruited Israeli dual citizens like Ben Zygier who were citizens of friendly countries and would not attract undue attention.
The Israeli security service claims that he visited Israel a total of three times under cover of being a businessman. Anyone visiting his website will wonder how he could be a successful businessman, let alone spy:

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us embassy israelThe Shabak statement doesn’t offer any information on how he was identified.  It does note the Iranians promised Mansuri a $1-million payment for his services though it offered no proof such payments were actually proferred.
Alleged photo of U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv taken by Mansuri
Among the charges offered against Mansuri is this strange one:
The detainee tried to aid Iran in its efforts to circumvent the trade embargo and transfer funds [internationally].
Why and how an Iranian spy would focus on Israel as a target to transfer funds or circumvent the trade embargo makes very little sense unless he was attempting to export forbidden products from Israel to Iran.  If so, it would seem a fool’s errand given the level of security in place inside Israel to prevent such developments.  In fact, the Shabak report says he attempted to establish business connections inside Israel by providing roofing and windows for restaurants and other businesses.  Do these sample products featured on his website appear to be of the sort that would allow massive violations of international sanctions?
This arrest follows another a few weeks ago of a mentally-troubled Israeli citizen who visited the Iranian embassy in Berlin asking to spy on its behalf inside Israel.  The Shabak believes that Iran turned him in in the hopes of distracting from the real spy it was working in Israel’s midst.
Though I don’t doubt the IRG would want to infiltrate its agents into Israel, I somehow find it highly suspect that Israel didn’t know from almost the first moment Mansuri showed up at Ben Gurion that he was a suspicious character.  Even if he tried to conceal his Iranian ethnicity, these things aren’t hard to trace.  I believe that Shabak knew almost from the first moment he arrived what or who he was.  It allowed him to enter Israel, tracing what he was doing to figure out the methods being used by the IRG to try to spy on the country.
bibi netanyahu un speechThe Shabak statement says it didn’t pick up Mansuri the first few times he visited.  Personally, I find it hard to believe the Shabak couldn’t detect someone entering Israel under an assumed name.  But even if true, I never believe he posed a threat to anyone.  In short, this incident is nothing like the Israeli-MeK assassination campaign and sabotage of Iranian missile facilities, which are crimes of state terrorism for which the Mossad and its leadership should be tried before an international court.  Israel’s spying and terror is far more lethal than anything Iran has mounted (even including bombs allegedly exploded in Dehli and Thailand).
Bibi’s speech later today at UN featuring his very own bomb-throwing Iranian spy (Amir Schiby)
My Israeli source confirms that the timing of this announcement is deliberate.  Haaretz confirms this with the following:
Exposure of Iranian agent: ammunition for Bibi’s UN speech
Mako goes even farther:
Security Sources: the Timing of the Arrest of the Iranian Spy is No Accident
Maariv quotes a “senior official accompanying the prime minister,” who my Israeli source tells me is Bibi himself, giving this desperate spin to the incident:
At a time when Iran was denouncing terror on American soil, it sents its agent to gather intelligence for a terror attack against the U.S. embassy in Israel.
Holy smokes! Because they found a single picture in his camera that means Iran was about to blow the U.S. embassy sky-high!
Haaretz columnist Uri Misgav is brutally acerbic in his evaluation of the Shabak’s performance:
An Embarrassing, Troubling Episode in Shabak History:
The report was hurried and amateurish.  The timing ridiculously transparent.  The substance not earth-shaking.  The security services don’t usually supply PR and hasbara services for the prime minister, nor political fodder for the road.
Only the NYT’s Isabel Kershner naively and typically called the timing “serendipitous.”
As Yossi Melman so rightly noted in his latest piece for The Post (Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew edition), Bibi has cried Wolf so many times in the past that it no longer registers with anyone but his own followers.  No one believes that Israel can or will attack Iran given the latest moderating voices that have been heard in New York and Washington.
Yediot also notes that Shabak uncharacteristically released this story before it had completed its investigation.  Another reason to suspect political timing to the report.
Bibi is desperate to change the momentum in world discourse away from Iran’s peace overture and Obama’s embrace of it.  What better way to do that than to remind the world Iran is a perfidious enemy stopping at nothing to attain regional domination through infiltration of its enemies territory and sabotage of its infrastructure.  You’ll note however, there was no display of the weapons, bomb-making equipment, etc. Mansuri was using in his dastardly plot.  All they had to offer was a picture of the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv that Mansuri allegedly shot.  Incriminating!
This reminds me somewhat of the Saudi ambassador assassination plot allegedly orchestrated by an Iranian drug-dealer and wife-beater who was a cousin of a senior member of the IRG.  Much ado about very little.  If Bibi does shine a spotlight in his speech on this plot he risks another Wile E. Coyote moment like the one last year in which he offered a magic marker poster board mock up of Iran’ s ticking nuclear time-bomb.  Instead of that ticking time bomb, he might as well hold up a new poster featuring Ali Mansuri holding that bomb in his hands.  It will look about as foolish as last year’s episode.
In short, Mansuri is a convenient foil for Bibi’s upcoming fulminations at the General Assembly in which he will tell the world “the truth” about Iran.  A speech, I might add, that the entire world awaits with bated breath.
Just as interesting as what’s contained in Shabak’s revelations about the Iranian spy incident is what isn’t.  In a list of Iran-inspired terror attacks against Israel there is curiously no mention of the attack on the airport in Burgas.  Those with some memory will remember that Bibi shouted from the rooftops after that attack that Iran’s IRG was responsible.  Now it appears that even this Israel intelligence agency disagrees.  Though the quiescent Israeli press has never called Bibi on his lie.  Unfortunately, Amos Harel’s Haaretz story linked above repeats the false claim that Iran was involved.   In this, he amplifies Bibi’s lies.
So one might add that any Israeli claim that it has proven the hand of Iran is behind anti-Israel terror must be taken with very large grains of salt unless and until proven otherwise.  Further, Israel appears to be making the same mistake the CIA did in 2003 when it allowed itself to be politically co-opted by the Bush-Cheney folks to gin up a false WMD charge and war against Iraq.  Politicizing intelligence is a very bad idea.  But Israel does it shamelessly as I’ve shown here many times.
 EXPOSED: Indy “Newspaper” Funded by US Government 

Note: A copy of Prachatai’s recent disclosure can be found here.
Editor’s Addition: A conflict of interest occurs “when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other.” Prachatai, in their own disclosure admits that such a conflict of interest indeed does exist, one they address by simply “giving us their word” their motivations are not corrupted.
This is before we even consider the extent to which Prachatai supports the talking points, agenda, and websites of other Soros-funded globalist organizations, like Amnesty International (page 10), Global Voices, and Human Rights Watch which end up as posts and/or saturate Prachatai’s “links” column.
Bangkok, Thailand August 11, 2011 - After initially trying to downplay, obfuscate, and deny accusations that the Thai “independent, non-profit, daily web newspaper” Prachatai was in fact a US-funded propaganda front, a series of reports from Land Destroyer provided irrefutable evidence taken directly from the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy website.
Additional backpedaling, lying, and obfuscating prompted a follow-up report on Prachatai featuring several unlisted funding sources the duplicitous organization most likely thought were well buried.
Video: Noam Chomsky in 1993 on the NED’s projects in Nicaragua: “It’s about what you would expect from a bipartisan democracy campaign – it’s an attempt to impose what is called democracy, meaning rule by the rich and the powerful, without interference by the mob but within the framework of formal electoral procedures.”
Perhaps fearing a third onslaught, or in a desperate attempt to salvage its sagging legitimacy, just this week Prachatai has made a seemingly complete disclosure of their US government and US corporate foundation funding laying to rest its own supporter’s erroneous assumptions and defense that the organization was “just barely getting by.”
In fact, they are doing quite well and receive millions of baht consistently year to year from the US National Endowment for Democracy, George Soros’ Open Society Institute, and more recently USAID.
In fact, an overwhelming 77% of Prachatai’s nearly 8 million baht in funding during 2011 has come directly from Uncle Sam – overt funding that would cut the legs of legitimacy out from under any alleged “news organization.”
Still, Prachatai’s utter contempt for both journalism and their readerships’ intelligence is best encapsulated in a cautionary reminder posted directly before their full financial disclosure which claims, “it is important to state here that none of our foreign donors has ever put up any demands connected to the funds they provided, nor did they ever interfere with our reporting.”
[ed notes:click link for whole expose

Al Qaeda FSA Terrorists Release Prisoners from Harem Prison for Recruiting

William Lara interviews President Bashar al-Assad. TeleSUR and Axis of Logic
 Editor's comment: The following article includes TeleSUR's interview of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with videos and a transcript. But first we report on William Parra, a journalist working for TeleSUR and his camerman, William Moreno who came under fire by the US-backed terrorists on September 16 in Damascas. Parra was singled out by a terrorist sniper and shot in the leg. He was rescued from the terrorists by the regular Syrian Army and transported to a hospital where his wounds were treated. TeleSUR issued a statement that both men were clearly identified as journalists. If Parra or Moreno would have been injured by an explosion or shrapnel in the war zone it would have been one thing; but shot by a sniper with a scope-mounted rifle while they were boldly labeled as PRESS has obvious implications. Moreover, if these courageous reporters had been shot by the Syrian Army it would have immediately received great attention by the government-controlled media in the United States and Europe. This attack by terrorists however has received little to no coverage by the western media. Parra went back to work after having been treated for his wounds and interviewed President Bashar al-Assad.  TeleSUR is an international television channel reaching the whole of Latin America, powered by the Simon Bolivar Satellite and based in Venezuela.
We include two video excerpts of the interview with English subtitles below followed by the full transcript.

- Les Blough in Venezuela
"US advocates peace but legitimizes violence"
Following is the full text of the interview:
TeleSUR: Welcome TeleSUR viewers to this special program covering the events in Syria. Our distinguished guest has managed to capture the attention of the whole world – President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. President, thank you for giving this interview to TeleSUR, which we hope will provide an opportunity for our viewers in Latin America to understand your perspective and your views. Welcome to the program.
President Assad: I would like to welcome you and TeleSUR in Syria and to extend my good wishes to you on your recovery from your leg injury. I believe that my interview with a journalist who has witnessed terrorism first hand will be pragmatic and rich. Once again, I welcome you as a journalist whose blood has been mixed with the blood of soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army.
TeleSUR: Thank you. Indeed, there are many common factors between us, including this blood. You mentioned terrorism - a car bomb exploded in Damascus yesterday, killing and injuring many civilians. What is the terrorist’s message particularly in these circumstances facing Syria and the world? And how do you see the current efforts to confront terrorism in Syria?
President Assad: These terrorists have only one message, which is the dark ideology they carry in their minds; for them, all those who do not think like them do not deserve to live. Every so often, they carry out these acts of terror to either attract people to their cause or to frustrate them. In other words, they want people to lose hope - and when you lose hope, life has no meaning. So in one way or another you become closer to them. From another perspective, these terrorist operations are financed, planned and instigated by people outside Syria with the aim of pushing Syrians towards complete despair, making them believe that there is no hope in their homeland and that the Syria which has existed for centuries no longer exists. Loss of hope pushes people towards defeat, which in turn makes them stop defending their country. What you saw yesterday was only one of hundreds of attempts in that direction; in fact they have all had the opposite effect - Syrians today are more committed than ever before to defending their country.
Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis American policy has been based on lies
TeleSUR: Mr. President, yesterday we heard US President Barack Obama speech reflecting on what the United States has done in different parts of the world, he spoke specifically about the situation in Syria; Syria was also a major issue at the United Nations. President Obama, more or less agreed on the need for a political solution in Syria, however, he called on the United Nations or the Security Council to pass a tough resolution against Syria and against your government if you do not continue to fulfill requirements of the chemical weapons agreement. He also stressed that, as far as the United States is concerned, your government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack against civilians.
President Assad: His speech yesterday was more of the same – full of allegations based on fabrications and lies. In general, most statements made by American officials, whether in the current or previous administrations, do not have the least bit of credibility. Their statements are often similar and repetitive, and as such we do not feel it is necessary to comment.
Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, American policy, whether knowingly or unknowingly, has been based on lies. I believe that they were aware of most of these lies, which increased in intensity, and the administration played a direct role in these fabrications after the chemical weapons issue was raised on August 21st. The administration has not provided any evidence to support its claims, which implies that it was lying to the American people. From the beginning, we challenged them to present their evidence, which they didn’t; when they failed to convince the American people of their allegations, they couldn’t retreat and so became more determined.
As for their talk about invoking Chapter Seven, this does not concern us in Syria. First since independence, it is well known that Syria has always committed to all agreements it signs. Second, today there is balance in the Security Council which prevents the United States - as was the case in the past, from using the Security Council as an instrument to achieve its special agendas, including toppling regimes and destroying states as was the case in 1990s. As I said, these American allegations are nonsense and have no realistic or logical foundation.
The actions of the US, through wars and interventions, completely contradict their interests
TeleSUR: Back to President Obama’s speech, we saw that he was confused and didn’t know what he wanted. Sometimes he speaks about the use of force and sometimes he speaks about a political solution. He says that the Israeli aggression against Syria is in defense of American interests in the region. What are America’s interests in the region, and what is it looking for in Syria? Taking into account what’s happening at the Security Council concerning Syria, are you able to rule out an American aggression against Syria?
President Assad: With regards to the contradiction you mentioned, this has become the hallmark of every statement made by every American official, be it the President, his Secretary of State or others. For instance, they say that Syria’s military capabilities do not pose any concern to the American army should it decide to carry out any military action or aggression against Syria; however, at the same time, they say that Syria is a threat to American national security. This is just one of many examples in this regard.
As for the possibility of an American aggression, if you look back at the wars waged by the United States and American policies - at least since the early 1950s, you find that it has always been a policy of one aggression after another - starting with Korea, then Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq; this is the American policy. We also cannot forget American policy in South America where it instigated military coups and caused the deaths of millions; tens of governments were toppled as a result of American policy. For decades this has been their policy, which continues today - unchanged, it is also unlikely to change in light of the current American domestic situation. So the possibility of aggression is always there, this time the pretext is chemical weapons, next time it will be something else.
The more important element in all of this is that for decades, the United States has been superseding the Security Council, superseding the UN Charter, superseding the sovereignty of states and superseding all human and moral conventions. So, maybe all of us in the world need to keep this possibility in our minds - and this what we are doing in Syria. Is there a possibility of aggression? It might not be now, but nobody knows when it could happen. It remains a possibility, and we shouldn’t rule it out.
As for the interests of the United States, I believe that for decades, the actions of the United States, through wars and interventions, completely contradict their interests. It is a superpower and as such has political, economic, military and other interests. It can achieve these interests through mutual respect, good relations, trust, credibility and promoting science and knowledge instead of spreading terrorism, destruction and fear. There’s no doubt that as a superpower it has interests. Most of the big powers have interests around the world, but these interests need to be based on achieving stability in the world first. You cannot have any interests in an unstable region full of wars and terrorism. So yes, it has interests, but everything the United States is doing and all its policies, contradict its interests and the interests of the American people.
Violence destroys any chance for political action
TeleSUR: As Your Excellency said, the speech of the American President is in line with this great degree of contradiction, which characterizes the American empire. Yesterday he talked about a political and peaceful solution for the Syrian crisis; nevertheless he left the door open for you to step down. He literally said that the time has come for Russia and Iran to know that President Assad remaining in power means giving extremist groups a wider space to step up their activities. What do you think of what Obama said, and do you consider it likely that you will step down?
 President Assad: As for your first point, this is another example of American contradictions; it’s like saying that we are seeking war and peace on the same issue and we are using the same roadmap to resolve the matter. This logic means promoting violence in the world and legitimizing violence as a means to reach a political solution. This is illogical. There is nothing in common between violence and political action. Violence destroys any chance for political action. We reject this logic, which the United States has recently tried to promote in order to justify aggression on Syria.
As to the question of stepping down, American officials - or some of their European allies, have been raising this issue for over a year. It doesn’t concern us for a simple reason: Syria has been independent for generations - for more than five decades, the United States has not toppled a president in Syria and has not brought any official to a position of power. So the United States cannot presume now that it has the right to decide, on behalf of the Syrian people who is in power and who isn’t. This issue is decided upon one hundred percent by the wishes of the Syrian people; even friendly countries have no say in this matter. This is determined by the desires of the Syrian people, which are solely expressed through the ballot box. When the Syrian people don’t want you, you should leave immediately; and the opposite is true. Regardless of what the United States says or does in this regard, it has no role whatsoever. That’s why these statements are of no significance to us.
The world is better when the United States stops interfering
TeleSUR: Let’s finish this discussion about Obama with what he said: “the world is better now thanks to the United States.” How do you think that the world is better thanks to the United States?
President Assad: Let’s talk about facts. Has Iraq become better with the American presence? Has Afghanistan become better? Is the situation in Libya better? Is the situation in Tunisia better? Is the situation in Syria better? In which country is the situation better? Was Vietnam better when the Americans interfered or when it was left alone to become independent and develop on its own? Look at the situation in South America: is it better now or when the United States used to interfere? The truth is that the world is better when the United States stops interfering – we don’t want it to help anyone. He (Obama) said yesterday “we cannot solve the problems of the whole world” - well, I say that it is better if the United States does not solve the problems of the world. In every place it tried to do something, the situation went from bad to worse. What we want from the United States is for it not to interfere in the affairs of other countries, then, the world will certainly be better.
However, if he meant that the spread of terrorism everywhere is better, this confirms what some Americans are saying in the American media - that the Obama policy is based on supporting extremism and terrorism. If this is the case, then what he said in this regard was accurate - that the world is better because of the spread of terrorism throughout the world.
The Iranian position towards the Syrian crisis is very objective
TeleSUR: Did you found anything new in Obama’s position towards President Rohani when he quoted President Rohani as saying that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis, and that the chemical weapons were passed to the armed groups fighting in Syria by Western countries? And how do you see President Rohani’s position when he calls for the cessation of financing and arming of the opposition?
President Assad: The Iranian position towards the Syrian crisis is very objective because they know the reality of what is happening in Syria. At the same time, they understand that this is one region, and consequently if there is a fire in Syria, it is bound to spread to neighboring countries and later to countries further away, including Iran. Iran bases its policies on these foundations and also on the grounds that it is the Syrian people’s right to solve their own problems.
As to American remarks on the Iranian position: first, as I said before, regardless of whether American statements are positive or negative, whether they praise, criticize, condemn or denounce - nobody believes them. In the same token, the Iranians are not naive to be deceived by the American position; Iran’s experience is similar to Syria’s experience with successive American administrations, at least since the Islamic Revolution in Iran. That’s why what concerns us is not the American remarks, what is important for us is the essence of Iranian policy towards Syria; and once again I stress that in essence it is objective and achieves stability for our region, if different parties in Syria have adopted the Iranian vision.
TeleSUR: In fact, in Iranian statements at the United Nations, there was a proposal about Iran’s relations with the United States to the effect that a meeting will be held between the Iranian president and the American administration. Such meetings have not taken place for a long time. How do you see the rapprochement? Is the United States really engaging Iran, or is it just an attempt to push Syria’s friends away from it? Or is this position another way of saying that the United States has no choice but negotiations rather than the use of force to protect its interests?
President Assad: First, unfortunately even the United States’ closest allies do not trust them; so the Iranian-American rapprochement does not mean that Iran trusts the United States. Our relations with the United States have been through various stages of ups and downs, but trust has never existed at any of these stages. However, in politics, you need to try all methods and means and to knock on all doors in order to reduce tension in the world. So, communication and dialogue are necessary in relations between states. We believe that the rapprochement between Iran and the United States, whether regarding the Iranian nuclear program or regarding anything else, is positive and good for the region, if the United States has a real and genuine desire to deal with mutual respect with Iran, not to interfere in its domestic affairs, and not to prevent it from acquiring nuclear technology.
On the other hand, I can’t imagine that the United States has abandoned its principle of resorting to military force. I think the opposite is true; when the United States saw that it had competitors on the international arena - or let’s say partners, if not competitors, in the form of great and emerging powers in the world, - it started to resort more to the principle of force, although this same administration was elected on the basis of rejecting the Bush doctrine of using force; now, it returns to the same doctrine. I believe that they are trying to co-opt the Iranian position as they tried to do with Syria a few years ago, but the Iranians are fully aware of this game.
TeleSUR: Mr. President, going back to Syria and the chemical weapons issue. What are the real guarantees provided by your government that the list you submitted on your chemical arsenal is truly representative of the weapons you possess? And what are the guarantees you provide to the UN investigators in order that they do their job, inspect the sites and put the chemical weapons under international control?
President Assad: Our relationship on this issue will be with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Syria is not required to provide guarantees to the world or to the organization, it is required to deal with specific mechanisms or to abide by specific mechanisms stipulated in the chemical weapons convention. And as I said before, Syria is committed to all agreements it signs.
Syria has recently sent the required data to the OPCW. Shortly, OPCW’s experts will visit Syria to familiarize themselves with the status of these weapons. As a government, we do not have any serious obstacles. However, there is always the possibility that the terrorists will obstruct the work of the investigators in order to prevent them from reaching the identified sites, either because they have their own motives or because they are acting on instructions from the states that support and finance them. Either way, we expect that their objective is to blame the Syrian government for not cooperating with the investigators. But as far as we are concerned as a government, we have no problem with agreeing to the mechanisms provided by in this agreement.
It was the Syrian government who invited the investigators to come to Syria last March
TeleSUR: The international investigators will return to Damascus today to identify other places where there were allegations that chemical weapons were used, in addition to the August 21st incident. What are your government’s guarantees that the investigators will do their job freely and independently?
 President Assad: This group hasn’t come to Syria on the initiative of the United Nations or any other country. It was the Syrian government who invited the investigators to come to Syria last March, when the terrorists used toxic gases in an Aleppo suburb in the north. In fact, it was the United States that created obstacles in order to prevent them from coming. We invited them, since we have an interest in their visit in order to determine the truth about the use of chemical agents in Syria. So, it is illogical for us to invite them and create obstacles to prevent them from doing their work. Even when the mission left Syria a few weeks ago, we had wanted them to complete their visits to the areas where chemical weapons had allegedly been used; it was the United States that insisted on them leaving before they had completed their mission. Now that they have returned, the Syrian government certainly supports their mission. And as I already mentioned, there are no obstacles except when the terrorists obstruct the work of the mission, particularly in the places where terrorists exist in large numbers.
TeleSUR: Despite the allegations that it was the Syrian government who used chemical weapons, the Russian government provided the United Nations with evidence that it was the armed groups who used the chemical weapons. What evidence do you have? And what is the Russian and Syrian government doing in order to prove that it was the terrorist groups and not the Syrian government who used chemical weapons?
President Assad: Of course we have both evidence and indicators. As for the evidence, when toxic gasses were used in Khan al-Assal, we took samples from the soil, blood samples from the victims, and also pieces from the projectiles used to carry the toxic material to that region. Later on, during operations carried out by the Syrian Army, a number of hiding places were discovered housing different sized containers filled with chemical agents - and in some cases toxic materials, as well as the instruments required to manufacture them. We provided the evidence to the Russian government before the UN mission came to Syria. We also have the confessions of the terrorists who brought some chemical agents from neighboring countries into Syria. These confessions were broadcast on television about a week ago.
Why the Syrian government did not use these materials?. First, the Syrian forces were making progress: they did not use them a year ago, when the terrorists were much stronger, so why should they use them now? The Syrian forces did not use them in remote areas where there are a much larger number of terrorists than in Damascus suburbs, so why should they use them here? You can’t use these materials in residential areas where they likely to kill tens of thousands and not only several hundreds or a thousand. You cannot use them in places close to your own forces - Syrian soldiers, because the soldiers themselves will be killed. So, logically, practically, militarily, they can’t be used in such conditions.
In any case, when you have a crime, one of the first questions a detective asks is who has an interest in using these weapons, or who has an interest in this crime. It is very clear that the terrorists have an interest in this crime, particularly when these allegations coincide with the investigating team’s mission to Syria. Can you really believe that the Syrian government invites an investigation mission, only to use chemical weapons so that the mission can investigate their use? This is unbelievable, totally illogical. All the indicators show that the Syrian government did not use them, and all tangible evidence shows that it was the terrorists who used the chemical weapons near Damascus.
TeleSUR: In this context, what was the role of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in bringing these chemical weapons to the armed groups?
President Assad: To be precise, we have no evidence that they passed chemical weapons to these groups. But it is well-known that these countries have been supporting the terrorists since the beginning of the crisis in Syria. They have, without exception, provided them with all kinds of sophisticated weapons; this is certain and well-documented. So, it is to be expected - that when these countries openly and publically support these groups and provide them with all kinds of weaponry, it is to be expected - that they are accused, especially Saudi Arabia, of delivering these types of materials to the terrorists to be used against the Syrian Army.
This is all the more so, since these terrorist groups have failed to present to their masters outside Syria with any real achievements militarily on the ground. Of course, they have been able to destroy a lot in Syria; they have destroyed the infrastructure, they have affected the economy, and they have affected the life of civilians in a very negative way. We have no doubt that these terrorist groups have caused a great deal of suffering, but I’m referring here to military achievement in line with the objectives that were given to them. In this regard, they failed miserably, so they had to resort to a different kind of weapon. By using these weapons, they would either defeat the Syrian Army or apply political pressure to reach an agreement on foreign intervention so that the United States and its allies can launch an aggression against Syria and weaken the Syrian Army. Of course, the second option is the more likely scenario.
Israel is an aggressive state. It was created based on expansion
TeleSUR: There is a chessboard under the table. It’s known that there are agreements done under the table, and someone is moving the pieces under the table, and that someone is Israel. Israel has a role in what is happening in Syria. Why are they talking about chemical weapons in Syria and nuclear weapons in Iran while not talking about the Israeli nuclear weapons?
President Assad: Israel is an aggressive state. It was created based on expansion. It occupies other people’s land and kills the people surrounding it. It has killed numerous Palestinians for over six decades. It killed numerous Lebanese and many Egyptians, Syrians and others using assassinations, bombing, terrorism and other methods. Today it plays the same role by supporting the terrorists directly in the areas adjacent to the Syrian front, i.e. near the occupied Golan, where it provides them with logistic and medical support and also with information, weapons and ammunition.
TeleSUR: There are also reports that Israel has oil interests in some Syrian regions?
President Assad: This has been reported, particularly concerning oil on the Eastern Mediterranean coast, but these are mere analysis and we have no concrete information. As for Israeli nuclear weapons, as you said, nobody talks about them because Israel, the aggressive state, the rogue state, enjoys full support from the United States in all its policies. It covers up all its crimes. As long as this process of covering up continues inside the United States, in the Security Council and the United Nations, in the international organizations, including the IAEA, it’s no longer surprising that any weapon anywhere in the world can be discussed, but not Israeli weapons. This is the prevailing logic in the world, the logic of hegemony, of colonialism, the logic of force.
Dialogue is inevitable among Syrians, all Syrian parties about the future of Syria
TeleSUR: Mr. President, while they are trying to reach a political solution for the crisis at an international level, what are you doing inside Syria in order to reduce the tension? Are there any attempts to engage the different parties in Syria? Is there any hope of an internal solution in Syria leading to the Geneva conference?
 President Assad: No matter how intense the terrorist operations become, and how bad the situation is, we should continue to initiate political action to solve any problem. We believe in this and have pursued it from the very beginning, despite the recent escalation of terrorist acts. Political action requires, first of all, putting an end to smuggling terrorists from neighboring countries and stopping the support for these terrorists with weapons, money, and all the logistical support necessary to help them carry out their terrorist operations.
At the same time, dialogue is inevitable among Syrians, all Syrian parties about the future of Syria. This dialogue should start with the political system in the country: which system do the Syrians want, and consequently address the laws and regulations that stem from that system. There are many other elements and details: when the Syrians at the table reach a certain conclusion, it should be presented to the Syrian people for approval through a popular referendum. Now, the Geneva conference is an important venue, and it provides an opportunity for dialogue among the different Syrian constituents. Of course, we do not assume that the terrorists who carried out acts of killing will attend, neither do we accept that dialogue can be conducted with entities which called for foreign intervention. By law, and judging by the popular sentiment in Syria, those who called for foreign intervention are traitors and cannot be accepted by anyone.
As for the principle of the Geneva conference, it is an important and necessary step towards paving the way for dialogue between Syrian constituents. But the Geneva conference cannot replace internal Syrian dialogue, and certainly it does not replace the opinion of the people, which should be determined through a referendum. These are the broad lines of our vision for political action to solve the Syrian crisis; all these elements will not achieve any real results on the ground if support for terrorism is not stopped.
TeleSUR: You stressed that you’ll not negotiate with the armed groups and the terrorists in Geneva. Who are the parties with whom you will negotiate? How can this dialogue be achieved on the international level, and what is the timeframe for achieving a political solution for the Syrian crisis?
The parties outside Syria do not represent the Syrian people
President Assad: I can answer the part of the question that is related to the parties inside Syria, which represent the Syrian people. There are different types of parties – opposition parties, parties in the middle, or parties supporting the state. With regards to the parties outside Syria, we need to ask the states that support them because these states, - the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others – have propped up these individuals who do not represent the Syrian people. If these states tell them to go to Geneva, they will go; they will say and do as they are told. If we want to have an answer to this part of the question, we need to ask those states whether they intend to send these individuals or not, because they do not represent the Syrian people, neither the Syrian people nor the Syrian government will be sending them. This is why I have said that by dialogue, I mean engaging with the various opposition groups, basically, based in Syria as well as other influencers and movements that do not necessarily belong to the opposition.
TeleSUR: I cannot finish this interview without mentioning the leader Hugo Chavez who visited Syria and went with you to Maaloula, which only a few days ago suffered an attack carried out by extremists. When he was in Maaloula, President Chavez said “Nothing human or humanitarian can be used to justify an attack and an aggression against Syria. How can we not support the Syrian government? How can we not support the government of President Bashar al-Assad?” How can they support armed groups?” Could you please give us your impressions and your recollections of President Chavez’s visit to Syria? And what do you think of the position of Venezuela and the ALBA countries in defending freedom and defending Syria and the rights of the Syrian people?
President Assad: We have always said that the developing world, of which we are both a part of, has been through a number of stages in its pursuit of independence. The first stage was with the evacuation of foreign forces from our occupied countries, which most countries have been able to achieve through their independence. The second stage, which is more important, is the independence of political, economic and military decisions - the independence of national decision-making so to speak. This was achieved in Latin and Central America in the past two decades. There were two symbols for this independence: President Castro - five decades ago, and President Chavez. When we remember President Chavez, we remember this second stage because the endeavors we are facing in our region, in the Middle East, are similar to those that you went through earlier in Latin America.
When you achieved independent national decision-making, the situation in South America, and even Central America, became much better and political stability started to yield economic benefits. When you started economic development, some countries emerged as industrial powers and have become important economic powers. This is the natural outcome of independence. To date in the Arab region, we have barely achieved minimum independent political decision-making and in a limited number of countries. The conflict with the West now is in part related to this point, in other words, gaining independent national decision-making. I believe that South America in general, Venezuela and President Chavez, and before him President Castro, are important role models to be followed on the road towards independence and freedom sought by nations trying to shrug off Western hegemony in the form of long decades of direct colonization and, today, indirect colonization.
There are many similarities in temperament, in emotions and in the warmth felt by citizens of the same nation in your country and in ours. There are also similarities in our histories. President Chavez and President Castro aside, there are many presidents in Latin America today walking the same line of President Chavez.
But, I would also like to especially mention my friend and brother President Maduro whom I know through a number of meetings, during my visit to Venezuela and his visits to Syria. We are very happy that the Venezuelan people decided to choose this person to represent and enforce the political line taken by the President Chavez. He is a resilient and proud leader who has a clear understanding of our region; I am sure that he will continue to lead Venezuela to the path of independence. We all know that the United States and some of its allies had great hopes that Venezuela will return to America’s embrace in the absence of President Chavez. With President Maduro at the helm, these dreams have evaporated. I believe that as Arab states, we should follow the path of Latin America if we want to make a mark in the world, to be independent and advanced.
We are defending the future of our children and the future of the whole region
TeleSUR: Thank you very much, Mr. President for everything you have said, give us one last message to Latin America: will Syria remain steadfast? Will she triumph?
President Assad: Had we had other choices but to stand fast, I would have shared them with you, but we have no other choice but to stand fast because the political future of this region is tied to what is happening in Syria. We are not only defending Syria, or just our interests and principles, we are defending the future of our children and the future of the whole region - and this region is the heart of the world. An unstable Middle East undermines the stability of the world, even remote parts of the world. We cannot refer today far away regions like Latin America, North America or East Asia; the world today is a small village, and what’s happening in Syria will affect the surrounding region. What happens in this region will affect the remotest part of the world. I don’t want to say that we want the peoples of Latin America to support our causes, because they always support Arab causes with no less warmth and objectivity than our own people who live in this region and belong to these causes. We hope to enhance this relationship between us in order to enlarge the space of independence and reduce the space of colonization represented by the West and the United States in particular.
TeleSUR: Thank you very much, Mr. President. This was a special interview with His Excellency President Bashar al-Assad. Thank you to our friends in TeleSUR and in Latin America for staying with us. Be sure that our objective at TeleSUR is to bring people together.
President Assad: Thank you.

Army Seizes Truck Carrying 'Obsolete' Mortars, Ammunition in Arsal
 The army on Sunday announced seizing a Syria-bound truck loaded with “obsolete” ammunition in the Bekaa border town of Arsal. “The Lebanese army intercepted a truck carrying weapons at the al-Shaab checkpoint in Arsal,” MTV reported. “Maher Abdullah was driving the truck which was headed for Syria,” it said. Meanwhile, Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5) said the vehicle was carrying 20 mortar shells. According to LBCI television, the truck came from the northern border region of Wadi Khaled. However, an army statement issued later on Sunday said troops intercepted a pickup truck driven by a Lebanese citizen and loaded with a quantity of light munitions and 82-mm mortar shells. “After being examined by a military expert, the munitions and mortars turned out to be obsolete and unusable,” the statement said. “The detainee and the seized arms were referred to the relevant authorities and a probe has been launched under the supervision of the judiciary,” it added. On Wednesday, the army said a Syrian man was killed and two others were wounded after troops fired on a van that failed to stop at a checkpoint in Arsal.
[ed notes:obselete or  to be filled with explosive material,chemicals elsewhere inside Syria?

The New Great Game Round-Up #22
Christoph Germann, Sep 29 2013
As anticipated last week, the CSTO leaders agreed at a summit in Sochi on Sep 23 to provide Tajikistan with joint assistance in order to reinforce the Tajik-Afghan border. Tajikistan’s Pres Rahmon gave further details of the projects which will be supported by the CSTO:
The government of republic and its relevant bodies will solve a number of tasks related to strengthening the Tajik-Afghan border. Among these tasks are constructing new buildings of frontier posts, restoring warning and signaling systems and providing border troops with means of air patrol and surveillance, as well as radar aids.
Russian troops are apparently not part of the aid package for now but this issue might be discussed if the situation along the border deteriorates significantly. Pres Putin stressed how important it is for the CSTO to address threats emerging from Afghanistan:
Unfortunately, there are reasons to think that the intensity of Afghan drug trafficking and the activity of terrorist groups will grow considerably. They are already trying to spread their operations to neighbouring countries, including the CSTO’s Asian member states.
However, Afghanistan is currently not the only country worrying the Russian-led military alliance. The conflict in Syria was high on the agenda in Sochi and all CSTO members declared their opposition to military aggression by the Obama regime and its allies. In a joint statement adopted at the end of the summit, the CSTO leaders also strongly condemned “any manifestation of terrorism and violence against the peaceful population.” While Obama does not have a red line for beheading prisoners with kitchen knives, eating organs, raping women and children and mass executions of prisoners, the CSTO cannot ignore the activities of terrorist groups in Syria because they pose a serious threat to CSTO states as well, Putin added:
The group cannot turn a blind eye to such a serious problem as affairs in Syria. Armed groups operating on the territory of that state did not emerge from nowhere and will not evaporate. The problem of terrorism spilling from one country into some other is quite real and may directly affect interests of any of our countries.
Vladimir Putin stopped short of explaining that the AQ mercenaries are working on behalf of Washington but this is pretty obvious at this point. So Moscow is justifiably concerned about the next targets of the terrorists. Gordon Hahn of CSIS outlined how victory of NATO and its AQ footsoldiers in Syria would affect the situation in the North Caucasus ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi:
Now add in the Syrian situation. A robust US air assault on Syria resulting in the demise of the Assad regime in Syria could significantly undermine stability in Russia’s North Caucasus, strengthening and provoking concerted action by the Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin (CEM) to carry out attacks before or during the Games in Sochi and/or elsewhere in Russia afterwards, including attacks with CW acquired as a result of Jihadi advances in the Syrian civil war. The CEM, or at least elements among them, have been promising to attack the Games since 2010, and this summer their amir Doku ‘Abu Usman’ Umarov called on them to attack Sochi in order to prevent the Games from being held and to attack the Games if they begin.
CW in the hands of Doku Umarov and his Jihadi friends is certainly the last thing Moscow wants to see. So the Russian authorities step up their preparations in Sochi. Six Pantsir-S short-range air defense systems have been delivered to the Russian military ahead of schedule to protect Russian airspace along the southern borders during the Olympic Winter Games. The system is designed to take on a variety of targets flying at low level, including cruise missiles and aircraft, and can effectively engage targets at up to 20 km. But air attacks have never been preferred by the CEM anyway. Instead suicide bombings are the usual modus operandi, as we are reminded week after week:
Two police officers were killed and 16 people injured in a suicide bombing Monday morning in Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, according to police.
Violence in the Russian Republic of Dagestan has risen in recent months. Gun battles between security forces and militants are now an alarmingly common occurence. Sometimes the insurgents come out on top, sometimes the security forces prevail:
Russia’s anti-terrorism committee said Friday that an alleged warlord and four suspected militants had been killed in a raid on a home in the restive southern republic of Dagestan.
Pinning his hopes on the deterrence effect, Putin introduced a bill which would establish harsher sentences for terror-related offenses. However, similar measures have so far failed to accomplish their purpose. Besides NATO-sponsored terrorism, NATO’s encirlement of Russia continues to be a major concern for the Kremlin. Therefore the relationship with Belarus is vital and joint biannual military exercises are conducted to cement ties between the two neighboring countries. Putin and Belarus’ Pres Lukashenko travelled this week to the Khmelevka range on Russia’s Baltic Sea coast to observe the final stage of Zapad 2013. Baltic officials, alarmed by the activities, criticized the six-day drills on their doorstep. Estonian Defence Minister Urmas Reinsalu said:
While Russia calls Friday’s war games an anti-terrorism exercise, they suggest an escalation into a conflict with NATO member countries. An exercise of this nature is certainly negatively affecting the security environment in the region.
But at the same time, preparations for the next large-scale NATO exercise in the Baltic region are well under way. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined NATO in 2004, extending the territory of NATO right up to the Russian border. Latvia and Poland will host the upcoming “Steadfast Jazz” exercise:
After years of fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, NATO is planning a major exercise in Eastern Europe in November to brush up its conventional warfare skills, but insists it is not practicing with Cold War foe Russia in mind.
The last time Moscow trusted NATO was when Washington promised never to expand the organization beyond Germany’s borders. We all know how that eventually unfolded. Now Russia’s biggest neighbor in the post-Soviet space, Ukraine, is eyed as future member of NATO:
NATO Deputy Sec-Gen Vershbow has said that NATO will support the European aspirations of Ukraine. At the same time, he noted that NATO respects Ukraine’s choice to adhere to the non-aligned status. “The topic of Ukraine’s national security and its relations with international organizations is important, and recent developments in your country as well as in Russia, Republic of Moldova and Armenia have made it even more urgent,” he said.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia have deteriorated during the last few years, with disputes over gas being a major contentious point. According to Ukrainian PM Azarov, an unequal energy partnership is driving the two countries further and further apart. In addition to economic conflicts, there is also the issue of Ukraine’s integration into the EU, which is strongly opposed by the Kremlin. The Russian government fears that Ukraine’s EU membership could go hand in hand with its accession to NATO. Instead Moscow wants Kiev to join the Customs Union, a Russian project which is competing with the EU. Putin hopes to expand the Customs Union into a Eurasian Union, a political and economic union of post-Soviet states:
Moscow issues Eurasian ultimatum
Ukraine’s geography becomes crucial for Russia’s perennial need of a buffer zone vis-a-vis the West and the fear is that alongside the EU integration there could also be membership of NATO. Moreover, Moscow’s Eurasian Union project, which aims at integrating the former Soviet republics under its leadership, loses its shine without Ukraine’s inclusion.
At a meeting with European politicians in Yalta, Kremlin adviser Sergei Glazyev noted that there might be Russian sanctions if Kiev signs the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement at the summit in Vilnius in November. But sanctions are not the only thing Kiev should be afraid of:
Glazyev warned there could be a political and social cost of EU integration insofar as separatist movements might spring up in the Russian-dominated eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, which may in turn prompt Russian intervention.
In late 2004, when Ukraine’s Supreme Court abrogated Yanukovych’s victory due to the CIA’s successful Orange Revolution, officials in eastern Ukraine began to talk about home rule and secession. But in the end this did not happen and Ukraine was further removed from the Russian sphere of influence. Now Moscow is apparently threatening to support separatist movements and to intervene on the side of the secessionists in a scenario similar to 2004. Since it is anybody’s guess what NATO’s reaction to Russian intervention in Ukraine would be, the potential for conflict in regard to Ukraine’s EU membership must not be underestimated. At least, Russia’s CSTO partner Armenia does not cause problems for the Kremlin and prefers the Customs Union over the European Union:
Armenia has decided to hang its hat with its former Soviet ally Russia instead of joining a European free-trade agreement, Pres Sarksyan announced after meeting with Putin.
Yerevan’s decision is reasonable, since Russia is Armenia’s largest trading partner and the largest foreign investor, accounting for nearly half of Armenia’s foreign investment. The two countries maintain close economic and military ties. According to Armenian press reports, Russia plans to expand its military presence in the small country in the South Caucasus:
Moscow is going to expand its military presence in Armenia. Haykakan Zhamanak has learnt that the 102nd Russian military base in the Armenian city of Gyumri will be equipped with additional personnel in the near future. A spokesman for the Armenian Defense Ministry, Artsrun Hovhannisyan, neither confirmed nor refuted the information.
Armenia is very important for Moscow because it is Russia’s last ally in the Caucasus surrounded by NATO member Turkey and soon-to-be NATO members Georgia and Azerbaijan. Especially Armenia’s arch-enemy Azerbaijan will monitor these developments closely. The Azerbaijani government has enough time to worry about more Russian troops in Armenia since the upcoming election is not really an issue:
Azerbaijan: Presidential Campaign in Name Only?
There are three weeks to go before energy-rich Azerbaijan’s presidential vote on October 9, but a race is nowhere to be seen. No political ads adorn the capital, Baku, and no candidate spots are running on private TV channels. The incumbent strongman, 51-year-old Ilham Aliyev, is not even bothering to run an active campaign.
It is safe to say that Ilham Aliyev will win his third term as President. In Azerbaijan, political dissent is hardly tolerated. If opposition politicans bring up the rampant corruption of the Aliyev regime, they are threatened and pelted with water bottles. And criticial journalists face even worse:
Azerbaijan: Eight Years on, Murder of Journalist Still Haunts the Present
38-year-old Elmar Huseynov, editor-in-chief of Monitor magazine and one of the most critical journalists of Pres Aliyev’s policies, was shot and killed in front of his Baku apartment back in early Mar 2005. The crime shocked Azerbaijanis, prompting a condemnation from Aliyev, along with a promise for a rapid and thorough investigation.
To this day, the crime has not been solved, and since Huseynov’s death, another journalist has been killed and more than 200 incidents of violence against journalists have been recorded. So Aliyev’s power in Azerbaijan remains unchallenged. In Tajikistan, the presidential elections are also approaching and as in Azerbaijan, the outcome of the election is predetermined. Several Tajik opposition groups decided to join forces and nominated a single candidate, prominent human rights advocate Oynihol Bobonazarova, who is close to the Soros Foundations Network. But although her credentials “are beyond reproach”, Bobonazarova will not have a chance against incumbent Pres Rahmon. However, the upcoming elections could have taken an unexpected turn if the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and its splinter group, Jamaat Ansar’ullah, had managed to pull off the planned terror campaign:
Suspected Tajik terrorist confesses on TV
Three accused members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Jamaat Ansar’ullah terrorist groups Sep 24 admitted on Tajik TV that they planned to detonate several bombs in Dushanbe before the Nov 6 presidential election. They were among 10 suspects whom authorities arrested earlier in September. In the broadcast on Channel One, the accused ringleader, Alimurod Makhanov, who has various aliases, confessed to joining the IMU in 2011 and rising since then to the position of IMU and Jamaat Ansarullah emir for Tajikistan and the surrounding region. He has links with the Taliban and sent five Tajik men to IMU terrorist training camps in Waziristan, he said.
The IMU is currently working to destabilize Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province in accordance with Washington’s plans. Tajikistan’s intelligence service, the State Committee for National Security (known by its Russian initials GKNB), recently pointed to a build-up of IMU and Jamaat Ansar’ullah forces on the Tajik-Afghan border:
Last week, the Afghan National Army in Warduj, Badakhshan Province, killed 44 militants (including some foreigners) from the Taliban, AQ, the IMU and Jamaat Ansar’ullah, he said. During the same operation, the Afghans arrested four Tajiks, including one IMU and three Jamaat Ansar’ullah members, he said. One of the suspects, Mirali Ohunov, was planning to assassinate the Badakhshan governor and security chief. Ohunov faces terrorism charges in Afghanistan.
Millions in advanced US weaponry stolen channeled by (western backed)Libyan Jihadis
Brendan Bordelon, Daily Caller, Sep 27 2013
Libyan militants allied with terrorist groups stole millions of dollars in high-grade US military equipment, including armored Humvees and advanced night-vision goggles, during raids on a US special forces base outside of Tripoli last summer. Fox News reports that anonymous sources in the State Dept and military confirmed the theft, which is far worse than the few guns first assumed stolen earlier this month. In addition to hundreds of M4 automatic rifles and Glock pistols, nearly every set of available night-vision goggles and laser-targeting devices were snatched during two night-time raids on the compound in July and August. 23 heavily-armored Humvees with GPS navigation systems and weapons mounts for grenade launchers are also missing. The military hardware was stored at a US special forces camp set up outside the Libyan capital in the months after the Benghazi attack. The 12-man US team running the camp had two missions: to hunt down those responsible for the Benghazi attack, and to train Libyan government forces in military tactics and weapons use. But US special forces were not there to defend the camp during either of the raids, instead sleeping at a nearby villa. And Libyan government forces tasked with securing the camp proved no match for the militants. After the second raid in August, the State Dept pulled its support and US operators were sent home. On top of that, US forces failed to destroy the US-built training camp before their departure last month, and the compound is now home to a Libyan anti-government militia busy stockpiling weapons. Sources told Fox:
It’s not just equipment. It’s the capability. You are giving these dangerous groups the capability that only a few nations are capable of. All these militias are tied to terrorist organizations and are tied to AQ. The loss of this military equipment is what pulled the plug on the US operation. No one at the State Dept wanted to deal with the situation if any more went wrong, so State pulled its support for the training program and then began to try and get the team moved out of the country.
Some diplomats told Fox that all of Libya now appears as unstable as Benghazi in the days before the Benghazi attack, and military sources said that foreign fighters continue to stream through Libya’s porous borders. Spec Ops personnel told Fox:
The theft of these weapons and the open borders are feeding AQ and the MB, and threaten Libya’s neighbors as well. It’s already bad, and now it’s really bad. Already assassinations are picking up in Tripoli and there are major worries that the militias are using this stolen equipment to their advantage. The European ambassador was attacked and we are now commonly seeing robbing and attacking of people in broad daylight. This isn’t perception. This is actually happening.
The news comes one week after Obama waived federal law prohibiting the transfer of US weapons to terrorist groups in order to arm Syria’s rebels.
How the Syrian War Is Stoking Sectarian Tensions in Turkey
 “We are against war,” Karasu said. “The people here, they know that the government is using Hatay to attack Syria, to stoke tensions between Sunnis and Alevis.” As evidence, he pointed to the May 2013 car bombings in Reyhanli, a nearby town, in which over 50 people were killed. Erdoğan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) had attributed the attack to Syrian intelligence agents, but Karasu had other ideas. “We know the AKP was behind the bombing in Reyhanli, when they killed our Sunni brothers,” he said. “Why? To pin the blame on the Alevis, to stoke violence between us and our Sunni brothers.”“We’re afraid of tensions with Sunnis,” Khatifa Çapar, an older woman clad in a pink headscarf, told me on the way back from the funeral. “If there’s war with Syria, Hatay will be the first to get hit, the first to explode.”
Çapar and others appeared to retain a soft spot for the Syrian regime. “Bashar doesn’t kill people, they are the ones killing people, the jihadists,” she said. A young man, Mehmet Dağ, chimed in. “Before the war, everyone was living comfortably in Syria. Then the Americans came, along with the Turks, with their so-called Middle East democracy projects, and made war,” he said. “I used to go to Syria all the time. The kind of democracy they had there, you could hardly find in most other places.In Armutlu, evidence that Turkey’s role in Syria was fueling a new wave of Alawite resentment towards Erdoğan’s government was everywhere. On my way back from Atakan’s funeral, and en route to a protest that would end with yet more clashes with police, tear gas, burning barricades and even reports of gunshots, I stopped at a teahouse on the edge of the neighborhood.One of the local men, on recognizing a foreigner, asked me where I was from. Poland, I answered. “You look Al Qaeda,” he said, deadpan. (The cargo pants must have been a clear giveaway.) “That’s because I’m Polish Al Qaeda,” I explained, winking. “I see,” he said. I looked for some trace of a smile on his face. There was none.“Leave while you can,” a younger man sitting next to him yelled. “War’s coming.” At least he, to judge by a good-natured grin and a subsequent invitation to tea, appeared to be joking.But only to some extent. The man, Aytaç Bağcı, a sports instructor, was convinced that the U.S. would attack Syria at any moment, and that this would play right into Erdoğan’s hands. “Every day they’re sending Islamist terrorists across the border,” he said, referring to reports that extremist groups were transiting Turkey en route to Syria. He and his friends had had enough of seeing bearded foreigners on the streets of Antakya, Bağcı said. “Wherever they go, people die,” he said. The chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, he was persuaded, had been staged by the rebels, not Syrian regime forces, in order to goad the U.S. into military action against Assad.Erdoğan, he believed, wanted to “Sunnify” both Syria and Turkey. “They want political Islam here, and they want political Islam there, too,” he said Alevis, he said, wanted the government to stop sticking its nose into their private lives. “We want a secular country.”

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Why are Israel’s worst racists welcome in European Parliament?
David Cronin, Electronic Intifada, Sep 27 2013

Anyone who has examined Zionist propaganda critically will have noticed a trend of depicting Israel as a liberal paradise. Among the myths manufactured by this PR machine are that Tel Aviv is the world’s most gay-friendly city; that Israel is a global leader in protecting the environment; and that Palestinians have never had it so good.The memo telling Israel’s diplomats and their allies to “accentuate the positive” has been mislaid in Brussels, judging by an event held earlier this month. During the event, a few members of the European Parliament teamed up with some of Israel’s most reactionary politicians. David Rotem, a representative of Israel Beitenu, was guest of “honor” at a conference in the Parliament’s headquarters. He was a curious choice for a discussion about those controversial EU guidelines on ending aid to firms and institutions active in the settlements Israel has built in the occupied West Bank in defiance of international law. Far from being a slick spin-doctor, Rotem is overtly racist in his pronouncements. While two MEPs have landed themselves in hot water this year for applying the term “bongo bongo” to Africans, Rotem is able to make vile statements about Palestinians without fear of censure. he has said:
Every Jewish community needs at least one Arab, otherwise, who will repair my fridge when it breaks down on the Sabbath?
Perhaps the only commendable thing about Rotem is that he is more honest than many of his peers about the fact that Israel practices a form of apartheid. he has said:
Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, not a state of all its citizens.
Since joining the Knesset in 2007, Rotem has sponsored a number of bills designed to make Israeli apartheid more extreme. Among them were a bill requiring that citizens of Israel take an oath of allegiance to a “Jewish and democratic state.” He has also tried to exclude parties comprised of Palestinians living in present-day Israel from the Knesset and to ban public funding of organizations deemed not to respect Israeli “values”. The latter bill was originally known as the “Nakba law.” Rotem has been a staunch defender, too, of Israeli government efforts to uproot Palestinian Bedouins from their villages in the Negev (Naqab). And he has argued that communities in the Galilee and the Negev should be allowed to bar residents on grounds of race and religion. It’s important to note that Rotem is not a marginal figure in Israeli politics. On the contrary, he chairs the Knesset’s committee on constitution, law and justice. He has used that position to hurl insults at political opponents. Two years ago, he told a member of that committee:
Get out of here. You are not even an animal.
Himself living in the Israeli settlement of Efrat, Rotem has put forward a bill to copper-fasten the state’s “obligation” to invest in expanding settlements. He was not the only settler invited to the European Parliament this month. Gershon Mesika, head of the Shomron Regional Council for Israeli settlers in the West Bank, also addressed its conference. While all Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, Mesika has also registered his contempt for Israeli government decisions limiting the settlements’ growth. In 2009, he ripped up papers from then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordering a freeze on construction in some settlements. The European Friends of Israel, a cross-party alliance of MEPs, was involved in the recent conference. Its embrace of hardcore racists like Rotem jars with the cuddlier image that it has been trying to project of Israel so far this year. The EFI kicked off 2013 by celebrating Israel as a caring and open-minded place, with events dedicated to Israel’s humanitarian aid program and the protests against Netanyahu’s economic policies. Is rolling out a red carpet to Rotem a sign of desperation? I’m not sure if it is. The EU’s new guidelines aren’t simply opposed by Israeli settlers. Jackass Kerry is also demanding that the guidelines be withdrawn. You don’t need to have a doctorate in international relations to know that the EU is often servile towards the US. Jackass is more guarded and diplomatic in his choice of words than Rotem. But they are both striving to bolster a system that privileges one group of people and dehumanizes another.