Sunday, June 30, 2013

Syrian Army tactics and few examples of how Russia, China and Iran could help

The Abhazian Network News Agency ANNA ( and and its editor in chief, Marat Musin ( have recorded some truly fantastic coverage from the frontlines of the war in Syria.  Alas, the video commentary is always in Russian, hence I do not show these videos here, but their latest video shows a good example of the new tactics adopted by the Syrian army.  Take a look at this photo:

It shows a Syrian Army T-72 using its smoke-generation capability not to hide itself as much as to hide the soldiers behind it from sniper fire while advancing into a covered position.  Just a few minutes after the moment shown here, a solider was still wounded by a sniper shot, which tells you how much of a problem these snipers are.  The sniper, by the way, was spotted and killed using a rocket.

Now check out this photo:

It shows you a wider angle of the same battle scene.  Notice the third armored vehicle behind the two tanks?  This is a a Syrian Army BMP-2, an infantry fighting vehicle.  To see tanks supported by infantry fighting vehicles is typical, but in this case the BMP-2 is used as a rapid and safe evacuation vehicle for wounded soldiers.  Again, a very nice adaptation of available resources to different circumstances.

What is also curious is what is not shown on this footage:

1) no helicopters or aircraft
2) no use of artillery
3) the infantry assault groups are rather lightly armed

I suppose that the very close proximity of the two fighting sides can explain the lack of airstrikes (they are close enough to toss hand grenades at each other).  I suppose that tanks could be considered as more accurate than, say, mortars, but they can only shoot in a direct line of sight way whereas mortars can be used to strike target hidden behind obstacles.  Yet the Syrian only use tank and rockets, both direct fire support means.  I am not sure why.

As to why the Syrian assault groups are so much more lightly armed than the Russian assault groups were in Grozny I suppose that this indicate that the Syrian Army simply lacks that kind of weapons and maybe that is something which Russia could deliver to them.  I am thinking of the following weapons:
The RPO-A Shmel rocket launched infantry flamethrower (
The GM-94 grenade launcher (
The PP-19 submachine gun (
The VSS Vintorez special sniper rifle (
The AS Val special assault rifle (
The Pecheneg machine gun (
The OSV-96 special sniper weapon (
I want to stress here that all these weapons have been used by Russian assault teams in Chechnia and that they are not some kind of supermodern unique weapon that only Russian Spetsnaz forces have access to (for an example of that, check out the VKS "Vykhlop" silenced heavy sniper rifle:

Judging from the ANNA news footage, the Syrians are only using regular AKM-74 assault rifles and SVD sniper rifles.  While these are extremely reliable and effective, they simply do not provide the assault groups the kind of tactical flexibility which modern weapons designed for urban warfare do.   And that means that Syrian soldiers have to take extra risks to compensate for their small choice of equipment.

Furthermore, the beauty of the gear I listed above is that it is small in size and can be delivered by land, sea and air without triggering any suspicion.  Equipment like that can be loaded in the cargo bay of any civilian aircraft and delivered without anybody noticing anything.

Finally, there is no need to deliver large amounts of such weapons as these are not primary, general purpose, infantry weapons, but rather specialized weapons needed in small number to support the larger infantry force.

In conclusion, I would add that there is a lot of non-lethal gear which Russia, China and Iran could give to the Syrians, including modern encrypted radio systems, compact field-hospitals and medical gear, RPVs for intelligence collection, electronic warfare equipment, etc.

If this situation drags on, as I think it will, I hope that Russia, China and Iran will start delivering a steady flow of key equipment to the Syrians which really could make a difference in this war.

The Saker

PS: I wanted to add here that according to Russian military experts who spent some time observing the Syrian Army operations the typical casualty ratio between the Syrian Army and the Wahabis is 1:8 on average (meaning 8 Wahabis killed/injured for every one Syrian solider) and much higher when the Syrian manage to surprise the Wahabis.  One can only dream of the ratios the Syrian could achieve if given better urban warfare weapons!

Syria: The Faces Behind The Terror

by Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

In her extraordinarily bold and direct speech addressed to the Irish Parliament, Clare Daly (TD, Dublin North) called Obama a “war criminal” and “hypocrite of the century”. In describing the fawned reception of Obama in Ireland akin to pimping and prostituting of that nation, Ms. Daly hit the nail on the head. Sadly, America dwarfs Ireland and elsewhere in the undignified category of prostitution – the 29 standing ovations from Congress in May 2011 for war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu attests to this tragic fact.

While Daly was quite right in censuring Obama for his criminal policies, including aiding terrorists in Syria, it is worthwhile noting that Obama is merely a willing instrument; the faces and factors behind his handlers and the policies merit greater scrutiny and exposure.

Backing and arming the so-called Syrian opposition distracts from the threat posed by Israel and its’s expansionist agenda by internalizing the enemy in order to weak the State. As former Israeli Intelligence Chief, Amos Yaldin told the audience at the Israel Policy Forum in February 2013: “And this military [Syrian], which is a huge threat to Israel, is now also weakening and, in a way, disintegrating. We still have risk from Syria-- a risk of being an AlQaeda country, a Somalia-type country -- but from military point of view, each one of these are less dangerous than the Syrian regular army."

Perpetuating adversaries to kill each other is a time-tested tactic – one which was used during the bloody eight year Iran-Iraq war; a war which according to Leon Wieseltier[i] was a “distraction” when Israeli boots were on the ground in Southern Lebanon. In that war, the United States was providing arms and intelligence to both sides. When asked what the logic was in aiding both sides in the bloody war, a former official replied: “You had to have been there”[ii]. But why Syria?

The Need for Water

The primary goal of the early Zionist leadership was to control and secure the region’s waters. At the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, Chaim Weizmann declared that ‘it was of vital importance not only to secure all water resources feeding the country, but to control them at the sources – and the development of these waters became the primary aim of the Yishuv as a whole[iii]. This policy remained in place. As Israel’s third Prime Minister Levi Eshkol put it, water was “the blood flowing through the arteries of the nation”.

As previously stated (HERE and HERE), the chaos we witness in Syria today has been in the making for years with the aid and backing of Israel-firsters in order to accommodate Israel’s agenda – expansion and control of regional water supplies while weakening its adversary/ies.

Israel faced one of its worst droughts in 1990-91. A second more serious drought in 1998, forced it to turn to water rich Turkey. Turkey and Israel engaged in serious negotiations starting in May 2000 to import 50 billion cubic meters of fresh water from Turkey using tanker ships, but using tankers was not cost effective for the transport of water. Alternate plans were suggested.

In September 2000, the same year that young Bashar-al Assad succeeded his father as President of Syria, a strategy paper entitled “The Geopolitics of Water” by the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS) opined that "Since extensive water planning proposals will necessitate the establishment of pipelines and energy grids stretching across borders, a political and military structure that can ensure the safety and security of the carriers will be the prerequisite to effective water sharing” ….. “But an effective regional system would require political-military cooperation against Syria”. 

How to achieve this?

Israeli-Firsters to the rescue

Media mogul Haim Saban became involved in politics in the mid 1990’s with a view to support Israel. Saban professes that his greatest concern is the “protection” of Israel. At a conference in Israel, Saban described his method of influencing American politics : ‘Make donations to political parties, establish think tanks, and control media outlets’. (Saban penned an opinion piece in The New York Times in support of President Obama in his 2012 re-election bid).

It was no surprised therefore that in 2002, Saban pledged $13 million to start a research organization at the Brookings Institution called the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Saban Center would play an important role in propping up Syrian opposition (as it did in fermenting unrest post-2009 Iran elections with their June 2009 publication titled: "Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Towards Iran"[1]).

In 2006, Time Magazine revealed that that the US had been agitating, funding, and supporting "opposition" in Syria. According to the Time, the U.S. was "supporting regular meetings of internal and diaspora Syrian activists" in Europe. The document bluntly expresses the hope that "these meetings will facilitate a more coherent strategy and plan of actions for all anti-Assad activists." 

It is worthwhile mentioning here that America’s support of the so-called “opposition” which includes criminals, terrorists, and foreign fighters to effect regime change underscores America’s stark hypocrisy. According to 18 USC § 2385 - Advocating overthrow of Government (Cornell Law), advocating the overthrow of the government, ‘organizing or help or attempt to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of the government of the United States or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence’ bears serious consequences including fines and prison sentence of up to 20 years.

What is most revealing about the abovementioned Time Magazine piece of 2006 is that America’s efforts to aid the opposition and undermine Assad were run through a foundation operated by Amar Abdulhamid, a Washington-based member of a Syrian umbrella opposition group known as the National Salvation Front (NSF). Abdulhamid was a visiting Fellow at the Saban Center (2004-2006) before moving on to the Neocon-run National Defense of Democracies. 

When in 2008, Israel-firster Dennis Ross met with the "opposition" to discuss "Syria in Transition", Saban’s fellow - Amar Abdullhamid was present. In February 2009, Dennis Ross joined the Obama Administration team. In April 2009, the US funded, London-based Baraada TV started its anti-Assad propaganda into Syria (The epicenter of the uprisings' was Baraada over water distribution). Baraada TV’s chief editor, Malik al-Abdeh, is a cofounder of the Syrian exile group Movement for Justice and Development headed by Anas al-Abdah who was in attendance at the 2008 meeting with Dennis Ross.

It came as no surprise that John McCain who was a member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI) formed to rid Iraq of Saddam Hossein, and a cheerleader for the Libya intervention, the Egyptian opposition to Mubarak, for bombing Iran, and so on…..visited Syrian “opposition” (via Turkey) in order to encourage more bloodshed. And expectedly, he was de-briefed -- not at the White House, but at the Saban Center!

Soon after McCain’s presentation at the Saban Center, the White House disputed UN’s account and claimed that that Syria had crossed the ‘red line’ and used chemical weapons. 

It is not the intention of this article to exclude the plethora of other individuals, think tanks, forums, and media pundits who have institutionalized Israel’s policies and promoted them as ‘America’s interests’; these are too numerous to mention here. However, a notable other Israel supporter must be named. 

The Evangelical Factor

While various groups in Washington perpetuate and support Israel’s aggressive and expansionist policies -- at a cost to America, non have the zeal and the zest of the Evangelicals who support Israel to death. According to the dispensational model, a time of turmoil lies ahead, but believers will be "raptured" away before it begins. This period of tribulation will culminate in the final battle at Armageddon, a valley northwest of Jerusalem. 

The close association between American evangelicals and Israel has been a clear goal of Israeli politicians, especially those in the Likud party. According to Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum of AJC, “the evangelical community is the largest and fastest-growing bloc of pro-Jewish sentiment in this country”[iv]. Israel and Jewish organizations continue to rely on the support of Evangelicals to justify Israel’s occupation of Arab land even as Christian Zionists zest for evangelizing Jews remains a point of tension.

For example, within days of the June 1982 invasion of Lebanon (with a green light from Reagan), full-page ads appeared in leading papers requesting Evangelical support for the invasion[v]. In 1998, when Benjamin Netanyahu visited Washington, he met with Jerry Falwell and numerous fundamentalist Christians before meeting with President Clinton. Similarly, as recently as April 2013, Pat Robertson warned that brokering peace between Israel and Palestine would bring punishment on America.

It has been alleged that funds raised in America by right wing Christians is funneled to West Bank settlements. The mayor of Ariel on the West Bank had estimated that two thirds of all Jewish settlements were funded by Christian Zionists.[vi]

Building for Armageddon?

While Evangelicals (not all) are rupture-ready and encourage Israel’s expansionist agenda, Israeli politicians are not yet Armageddon-ready; at least, not yet.

In March 2013, Business Inside revealed that the United States is spending hundreds of millions of dollars building bunkers in Israel due to be completed 900 days from February 13, 2013. The project called Site 911 “will have five levels buried underground and six additional outbuildings on the above grounds, within the perimeter. At about 127,000 square feet, the first three floors will house classrooms, an auditorium, and a laboratory — all wedged behind shock resistant doors — with radiation protection and massive security. Only one gate will allow workers entrance and exit during the project and that will be guarded by only Israelis”.
Each door of the facility will have a detailed description of the mezuzahs written in “in-erasable ink”. This should be heartwarming news to Americans whose taxes are spent on such projects while the bridges at home are crumbling.

The future

The political establishment and the media has pimped out the nation. The list of conflicts awaiting us is long and bloody. Syria will not be the last conflict. This has been a brief and incomplete overview of what drives our nation, and where we are headed, the handlers and the willing instruments (in the words of Clare Daly, pimps and prostitutes). We continue to sink our head in sand and hope for a hero – for ‘something to happen’. There is only one hope for the future, and the only one power that can alter this destructive path: “We, The People”. 

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is an independent researcher and writer with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby groups in influencing US foreign policy.

[1] Chapter 6 reads: “The United States could play multiple roles in facilitating a revolution. By funding and helping organize domestic rivals of the regime, the United States could create an alternative leadership to seize power. As Raymond Tanter of the Iran Policy Committee argues, students and other groups “need covert backing for their demonstrations. They need fax machines. They need Internet access, funds to duplicate materials, and funds to keep vigilantes from beating them up.” Beyond this, US-backed media outlets could highlight regime shortcomings and make otherwise obscure critics more prominent. The United States already supports Persian language satellite television (Voice of America Persian) and radio (Radio Farda) that bring unfiltered news to Iranians (in recent years, these have taken the lion’s share of overt US funding for promoting democracy in Iran). US economic pressure (and perhaps military pressure as well) can discredit the regime, making the population hungry for a rival leadership......”
[i] Wieseltier, Leon, “Israel meets Iran in Lebanon; The Wrong War”, The New Republic, Apr 8, 1985
[ii] Stephen R. Shalom, The United States and Iran-Iraq War, citing Stephen Engelberg, "Iran and Iraq Got 'Doctored Data, U.S. Officials Say," New York Times, 12 Jan. 1987, pp. A1, A6.
[iii] Jan Selby, “Water, Power & Politics in the Middle East; The Other Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003
[iv] Donald Wagner, “Evangelicals and Israel: Theological roots of a political alliance”, The Christian Century, Nov. 4, 1998).
[v] Donald Wagner, “Evangelicals and Israel: Theological roots of a political alliance”, ibid
[vi] Colin Shindler, “Likud and the Christian Dispensationalists: A Symbiotic Relationship”, Israeli Studies, March 31, 2000

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Reflexions on my outburst yesterday and on how to best deal with the Wahabi phenomenon

This morning when I woke up and re-read my post yesterday and the comments it elicited - in particular the amazing comment by Lysander -  I felt that this was such an important issue that I decided to return to it in a separate post rather than to do so in the comments section.

First, I have to admit that what I posted yesterday was not so much a post as it was an angry outburst: in a few short paragraphs, I counted four "exterminate", one "shot on sight" and several attempts at adequately characterize these people including "crazed Wahabi thugs", "most evil and bloodthirsty animals", "beasts" and "vicious thugs".  Clearly, I was truly disgusted and angry.

And then I read Lysander's very moving comment and I realized that for all our superficial differences in nationality or religion, he feels exactly the same way as I do, and I think that there is something very important here.

(Lysander, I hope that you will forgive me for putting the spotlight on you, but your beautiful comment deserves no less; and since we are both using an alias, I hope that there is no harm done by this).

Lysander wrote: And this sort of thing happens so often and in so many different circumstances, that it is impossible to believe it is an "isolated incident."  I fully agree.  One can find all sorts of excuses, engage in endless discussions about "oppression" or even "alienation", but this is rubbish.  All sorts of people have been oppressed worldwide, and millions still are.  Most ethnic groups and probably all religions have, at one time or another, been oppressed.  But there seems to be only one group which always and systematically feels the urge to literally soak their hands into the blood of victims whose throats they slowly slit while screaming "God is great" from the top of their lungs.  Just in the 20th century there are many nations which suffered horrendously at the hands of oppressors (must I really write the full long list here?) and none of them engaged in such behavior.

Any normal and sane person feels sympathy and compassion for the victims of oppression, but what happens when this same person realizes that the victim itself is far more evil and vicious than the oppressor?  Does that not trigger a natural sense of rage?

Lysander wrote: I'd rather live under the most extreme police state of Hafez al Assad than under rule of these reptiles.  Exactly!

God knows I am no fan of the Assads (or of Gaddafi, or even Saddam), but when I see the actions of these Wahabi I also feel that we are talking about two different dimensions, different orders of magnitude, different species even: on one hand, we observe a typical corrupt and repressive regime with its Mukhabarat and torture jails, while on the other hand we have reptiles, inhuman crazed fanatical zombies (what else can I call them?!) who make the former look almost decent!

Lysander wrote: Nor is this barbarity confined to Syria. Somehow it has metastasized to my own Egypt, where you may have heard about the mob murder of an Egyptian Shia' cleric and his 4 companions this past Sunday.

I got a lot of flak for my categorical stance in full and unconditional support for Putin's mercyless war on the Chechen insurgency.  And I assume that a lot of people concluded that because of my Russian ethnicity I was supporting "my side".  Honestly, I was not.  First, I also supported the actions of the Russian military and security services in the first Chechen war even though the country was ruled by Eltsin whom I loathe to a degree hard to express in a few short sentences.   And second, believe it or not, I actually had rather sympathetic feelings towards the Chechen desire for independence.  First, because they never invited the Russians to the Caucasus (like the Georgians had) and, second, because they always courageously resisted the Russian presence in Chechnia.  At a time when so much historically Russian land was being artificially cut off from Russia (like the Ukraine!), the secession of tiny Chechnia really did not matter to me, or to most Russians.  Anyway, whether one believes me or not, my reason for supporting Putin's merciless war on the Chechen insurgency is because, unlike most people in the West, I was fully aware of what these reptiles, as Lysander calls them, where doing: the exact same stuff as they are doing today in Syria.

But of course, when they were doing so in Chechnia and Russia, nobody could give a damn: the West was, as always, supporting anything anti-Russian while the Muslim world - with the huge exception of Iran - was engaging in the usual "right or wrong my Ummah" the knee jerk support for anybody claiming to be Muslim.  The same happened in Bosnia and Kosovo.

I have also tracked the actions of these Wahabis in Bosnia and Kosovo, and while I will gladly admit that most Bosnian Muslims and Kosovars were not nearly as vicious and cruel as the Chechen insurgents, a non-trivial amount of them was.  In fact, in Bosnia a lot of so-called Mujahideens had been flown in by NATO and they also behaved exactly in the same manner.  Again, nobody cared or, if somebody did, it was, of course, the fully support the Wahabis again.

Do you remember the famous quote by Putin about Chechen terrorists?  Here is what he said:  We will hunt them down everywhere.  If we find them at the airport - then at the airport.  If, forgive me, we find them in the toilets, we will exterminate them there.  Enough, this topic has been settled. (Мы будем преследовать террористов везде. В аэропорту — в аэропорту. Значит, вы уж меня извините, в туалете поймаем, мы в сортире их замочим, в конце концов. Всё, вопрос закрыт окончательно).  Since he was using rather slangish expressions, it is hard to accurately render the strong emotion of his words, but I will say that Putin clearly, even crudely, conveyed two simple thoughts: 1) no negotiations 2) extermination.  Clearly, the man "had it".  And so do I.  And so does Lysander.

Here again, I have to return to Lysander's own words: quite frankly, I'm of the opinion that Bashar's mistake was not that he was a dictator, but rather that he was far too lenient with these lizard men. His father would have dealt with them in such a way that "hell would have held no surprises for them" as one pro-Syria blogger I like to read would say.  How can I possibly argue with Lysander in this case, while fully agreeing with Putin?!  Of course I can't.  He is absolutely right.

I will honestly tell you that this is very disturbing for me.  Both my religion and my personal philosophical and ethical outlook on life give me a strong disinclination towards concepts such as "merciless extermination" or "giving hell", but what can I say: when I think of Wahabis I really, sincerely and honestly do not see any other possible way.

This is why I speak of "crazed thugs" and Lysander speaks of "reptiles".  I think that we are trying to express a very disturbing and even distressing notion: that these people are not fully human anymore.  And while I hate this thought, and while I am disturbed by its implications, I have to agree with it.  People who crucify others, who slit their throats of elderly men, who issue fatwas allowing for the rape of girls in the name of God, people who can torture while screaming "God is great" are simply of a qualitatively different nature.  The same goes for cannibals who eat warm blood soaked organs on video to make a point.  If I think long and hard of the best way to describe them I can only come up with the following word: Satanists.

Lysander then wrote this: That latter incident has in the last few days caused me to embrace Shia Islam. Now I'm not very religious, but in terms of world view I'm very much in agreement with the Shia' values of resisting injustice and overcoming betrayal.

Lysander  - these are beautiful words and may God bless and protect you for such a movement of your heart!  Did you know that in the first centuries, when Rome was still pagan, there were quite a few instances of Roman pagans witnessing the martyrdom of Christians who suddenly spontaneously spoke up and declared themselves Christians only to be either thrown to the bests or beheaded on the spot.

I believe that there is a profound human instinct which tells us that if we cannot help an innocent victim then we have to join it and share its fate.  Furthermore, when people are killed for their faith, especially by Satanists, they are considered as "martyrs" or "shahids" which in both Greek and Arabic means "witness".  Witnesses of God's truth in the face of a worldly lie.  Christianity even believes that such people are "baptized in their blood" and therefore are recognized as Christians saints even if they never were formally baptized or even educated in the faith.  Yup - we believe that a pagan who sides with a martyr and gets killed for that himself instantly becomes a Christian martyr and saint!

Lysander - you say that you are not very religious (-: although it is quite obvious to me that you are far more religions than you know :-) but that "in terms of world view I'm very much in agreement with the Shia' values of resisting injustice and overcoming betrayal."  Well, I can tell you that while I am neither a Shia nor a Muslim, I also fully share that worldview and that I immensely admire the Shia with whom I feel a very deep sense of common ethos even if our dogmatic theology (to use a Christian expression) is different.  I can certainly honest say that I feel much much closer to Shia Islam than to any other form of Islam and that my admiration for the Shia themselves is also deep and heartfelt.
I think that your way of embracing Shia Islam (especially in the spirit of the beautiful words of Iran's FM Salehi) is indeed not a renunciation of genuine Sunni Islam.  In fact, I see your action as supra-sectarian: it is aimed at bringing you as close as possible to all the martyrs/shahids and God which you currently see as most effectively/consistently done through Shia Islam.  I see your decision and declaration as a deeply ethical and moral one and I commend you for it!

Coming back to the situation in Syria I have to admit that I am rather dismayed by my conclusion that a negotiated settlement is impossible.  Unless all the parties join forces together and agree to expel or destroy the terrorists (as the G8 Communique urges them to), I see no point in any discussions.  And since I see no sign from the putatively "non-terrorist part of the FSA" they they are even considering turning against their own military's "shock troops" (al-Nusra & Co.) what can we expect?

These "FSA moderates" remind me of Maskhadov.  By all accounts he was not a crazed beast like Hattab, Gelaev, Basaev, Raduev or Baraev - but he simply could not do anything against them, and that gave him no other option than to fight with, rather than against, them and like the rest of them, he was eventually killed by Russian Spetsnaz forces.  Maskhadov was the prototype of the "non-terrorist part of the Ichkerian insurgency" and yet it did him - or anybody else - no good.  I fear that the putatively "non-terrorist part of the FSA" are just like Maskhadov - irrelevant.

So what then?  By the year 2000 Putin had enough forces to through at the Chechen insurgency and physically eliminate it.  By 2000 he also had the priceless help of two charismatic leaders: Akhmad Kadyrov and then his son Ramzan.

In response to a comment I recently wrote this (slightly corrected): My gut feeling is that Wahabism must be combated by non-Wahabi, traditional, Sunni Islam. The local authorities must either be Sunni Muslim themselves or, at least, support traditional Sunni Islam. Look at Chechnia - on one hand Russian soldiers killed enough insurgents to defeat them militarily, but on the other hand it took a guy like Kadyrov, who is very openly and militantly Muslim and traditionalist, to beat back the Wahabi ideology in a way which the Russian military and all its firepower could not do. As for Putin, he went as far as to grant Chechnia a degree of autonomy which, frankly, is not quite in line with the Russian Constitution. Why? Because he understood that he had to do the maximum humanly possible to accommodate the kind of society Kadyrov wants to build: a very strictly traditional Sunni society, but one with in which Wahabis are quite literally shot on sight.  The Iranians are, of course, doing the same, but being Shia they have natural limits on how much they can do. Same for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

This brings three questions to my mind.  Does Bashar al-Assad have what it takes to be a "Syrian Putin"?  Can the Syrian military smash the insurgency like the Russians did it in Chechnia?  Is there a "Syrian Kadyrov" who can beat back the ideology of the insurgents?  At best, my own replies are two, rather timid, "maybes" and one "dunno".  Assad has done better than expected, the Syrian military has performed brilliantly.  And I have no idea if there is a "Syrian Kadyrov".  And if NATO intervenes directly, I am not sure at all what would happen.

There is one more thing which explains my outburst yesterday.  The fact that even though images of Wahabi atrocities are constantly showing up on the Internet, there are still so many people who chose to look away, to pretend like this is irrelevant, that this is an isolated case.  This trend to minimize or "explain away" that which is clearly satanic in nature has to be categorically denounced.  Sadly, mankind has a long history of wars, civil wars and violent uprising and insurgencies and by now we should all know what these tragedies inevitably involve (I even wrote a full article about that).  This is why the quest for a moral definition of a "just war"  from the Mahabarata to the UN Charter is such an important endeavor: it embodies mankind's quest to make sure never to engage in this ultimate evil if there are other options available.  Still, I can understand somebody trying to rationalize the truly inevitable consequences of war, in particular if this is a just war (by whatever definition), but to rationalize the actions of these Wahabis under any excuse at all is, I submit, morally categorically unacceptable.  Why?

First and foremost because Wahabi atrocities are presented by the Wahabi themselves as normative.  Why do others say that these are isolated incidents involving a minority of extremists when in reality they are clearly a part of a consistent pattern, repeated everywhere and justified in the name of God?

Second, while other religious have, of course, committed atrocities, this is the only case I know of where the name of God is gleefully evoked at the moment of torture and death.  True, the Jesuits are famous for their ad majorem Dei gloriam (to the greater glory of God) as a justification for the most barbaric crimes and atrocities, but this is precisely that - a justification for something otherwise hard to accept or condone, whereas the Wahabi's use of "Allahu Akbar" is not a justification as much as a Satanic doxology directly linked to the atrocity committed.

Third, while it is true that hatred breeds hatred and atrocities breed further atrocities,  I am unaware of any instances were atrocities are systematically committed in a joyful, almost festive, mood.  The only similar case I am aware of is the numerous lynchings of Blacks in the USA (south and north!) which were often announced days in advance in newspapers and which were organized with barbecues, ice-cream sales and a generally festive atmosphere.  But for all their elegant dresses and pretenses at being "gentlemen" we are dealing here with a population with no history, no culture, the primitive rudiments of pseudo-Christianity, no philosophy and with a moral and ethnically sophistication roughly equal to the one of the Cro-Magnon or Neanderthals (watching a few cowboy movies is enough to prove this point).  More importantly - the US authorities, for all their other faults, never considered these actions as normative and did take the measures needed to eventually stop them.  Finally, I would note here that Blacks in the USA, for all the horrendous atrocities which have been committed against them for centuries, never took revenge in the Wahabi manner, not the Socialist Blacks, not the Christian ones, not the Muslim ones. Huey P. Newton, Martin Luther King or Malcolm X would have been appalled if any other their followers would have acted like the Wahabis systematically do.  Yes, there have been isolated acts of Black violence, but these were either revolts against the slave owners (Nat Turner) or truly tiny groups (BLA).  The absolute majority of Black political activism in the USA was always resolutely non-violent.
Unlike the US "southern gentlemen" Wahabis pop-up in countries with a long history, a rich cultural tradition and sophisticated civilization which included several ancient and refined religions and philosophies.  As an Orthodox Christian I immediately think of such intellectual giants as Saint John of Damascus and Saint Ephrem the Syrian but I am sure that any Muslim could easily come up with his own list of famous Syrian Muslims.  Bottom line is this: the Syrians are not cowboys, and Wahabism in Syria cannot be excused or even explained by a lack of education or culture.  Neither can Egyptian Wahabism or, for that matter, Iraqi Wahabism.  These countries are all "cradles of mankind" and not some barbaric frontier.

I strongly feel that there simply cannot be any excuse for Wahabism - not in the repression from others, nor in some assumed lack of education or culture.  My personal conclusion is that we are dealing with a demonic, satanic anti-religion which is fully centered on the hate of "the other" whereas "normal" religions are all centered on the love for the other.  To speak in defense of Wahabism, to seek excuses or explanations for their atrocities is to defend Satan, literally.

Finally, in conclusion, I will say that for all the clearly emotional nature of my outburst yesterday, I do stand by my conclusion: I don't see the point of any negotiations with the FSA, "Friend of Syria", the Syrian National Coalition or any other political entity or military force which is in any way associated with, or allied to, the Wahabis in Syria.  In fact, the only people worth speaking to at this point are those who share what I call the "Putin approach" to Wahabism: immediately stop and desist or be exterminated.  Alas, at this point this means only Russia, Iran and, possibly, China.

Anyway, sorry for the long post, but after my outburst yesterday I felt like I needed to sit down and take the time to lay it all out, to get it off my chest, and to make my views available for discussion or criticisms.  If somebody can convince me that there is still room to negotiate, I will be immensely grateful as my conclusions at this point are rather disheartening if not depressing: they are a painful admission that the only way to deal with the current violence is much more violence, something which no sane person can welcome.

So please tell me I am wrong!

Kind regards,

The Saker

How fair and how logical is it to support the idea of Geneva II negotiations between the Syrian government and the multi-national terrorist of the FSA?

First, a disclaimer: I do not know when this video was shot, nor do I speak Arabic, so I cannot comment on what is said in Arabic in this video.  However, I can confirm that I clearly hear a voice saying in Russian "move to the side" and, later, "don't stand in groups".  It is also clear that at least one person in this video is wearing an Afghan "Pakol".  Finally, at least one person, the guy in a white shirt, look Indonesian to me, but I might be mistaken here.

Some sources say that the older murdered man is an Orthodox bishop, others say that it is a Roman-Catholic priest.  My personal impression is that this was not an Orthodox bishop but, frankly, I don't think that it really matters.

The most detailed description of this event I have found so far is on the website:
According to sources close to the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop , it was confirmed that the incident does actually involve a Syrian Catholic priest Father François Murad 49, and two of his assistants. This video shows militants believed to be Chechen gunmen speaking Arabic with a broken accent, slaughtering three people in the countryside of Edlib, including Father François Murad, who was patron of Sumaan al-Amoudi Monastery,

Father Francois and two assistants were brutally executed – beheaded with a small combat knife. Echoing previous beheading recorded by insurgents, the head is held up to the cheers of onlookers and then placed on the body.

The monastery in which he resided was burnt and looted, echoing the events of a massacre in Homs last month which resulted in the entire population of a Christian village being wiped out and their houses and possessions burnt. Two Christian bishops who were kidnapped by Chechen gunmen in Aleppo earlier this year, are still missing and are not the same persons that were beheaded.

As well as Christians, Shia villages are receiving the brunt of a boldly-confident insurgency. This newly-found confidence has resulted in having just recently received confirmation of America’s intent to supply them with more weapons. Last week, militants massacred dozens of villagers in the province’s town of Hatla. Since then, summary executions and sectarian house-to-house raids have taken place.

This month has seen an escalation in sectarian atrocities committed by insurgents,(foreign mercenaries) who have been publicly armed and supported by America, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other actors. Indeed, the atrocities are coinciding with further arms transfers – with new advanced weaponry witnessed in the hands of militants in the past number of weeks.

The most recent beheading recorded on video and uploaded to the internet, reportedly took place in Idlib countryside.

The reported beheading of the three Christians comes about the same time America has started sending arms to rebel fighters, the Wall Street Journal revealed this week. The Journal reported the Central Intelligence Agency just began transporting weapons to Jordan for eventual transfer to Syrian fighters.

The weapons transfer is aimed at helping Free Syrian forces oust Syria’s President Bashar al- Assad. It’s scheduled to coincide with arms shipments from other European and Arab allies for a planned and coordinated rebel attack set for August, the Journal reported.
See the video for yourself:

When I see this seemingly happy crowd, which includes some happy children, when I hear the screams of "God is great" I can only think one thing; these creatures must be exterminated.

Frankly, such footage makes me doubt the very notion of a peace conference.  You think that one can make peace with folks like these?  I don't.  I have to admit that I don't believe in negotiations with them.  Nor do I see the point of trying to work with them to reform Syria.  Again, at the risk of coming across as crude, unsophisticated or otherwise primitive, I personally see only one real way to deal with these people: exterminate them down to the last one.

I mean, really, look at the tall guy with long hair in this video (the one wielding the knife).  What would be the point of making him prisoner or punishing him for first degree murder under some civil criminal code?  Does he really look like a common criminal to you?

Not to me.

These crazed Wahabi thugs are truly the worst of the worst, the most evil and bloodthirsty animals out there and, I believe, they should be shot on sight as soon as they are detected.  I really hate saying that (since  I am an opponent of the death penalty in 99.99999999% of circumstances), but I think that it is the duty of civilized mankind to fully exterminate beings capable of such behavior.

How could I fully approve of what the Russians did during the 2nd Chechen war and expect Assad to do otherwise?

How can the current Russian government say that the Khasavyurt Accord was essentially a betrayal of Russia and also say that Assad should agree to negotiations in Geneva II?

The more I observe the situation in Syria the more I think that there is nobody to negotiate with, nor is there anything to negotiate about.  The Satanic barbarians who are the core of the so-called Syrian opposition can only be physically exterminated.  I honestly begin to have very serious doubts about the very notion of sitting down with these people and discuss something.  Or how could anybody civilized even consider the idea of jointly governing Syria with these beasts?

Does anybody reading these lines really believe that negotiations with these folks are possible?

I do not.

I would be dishonest if I pretended that I see any other way to stop this war other than physically exterminating all these vicious thugs.

Does anybody disagree?  Can anybody image negotiating with these people?

Kind regards,

The Saker

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Message from Christians youth to his Eminence Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah

The following message was left on Rafiq Nasurallahs (Lebanese Politicians) Facebook page (original translation)
From: the Christian brothers who want to assist the Resistance movement of Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Army who both everyday are sacriicing our brothers and sisters in this war against the Takfiri/Dajjalists
Message from Christians youth to his Eminence Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah

His Eminence Sayyed, we are a group of Christians youth we are fed up seeing our people, our religion are being killed, our archbishops being kidnapped, our girls being raped and the Cross instilled in their mouths by the hands of these barbarians, the Salafis and Takfiris who are not related to Islam in anything. the smell of death is smelting from everywhere. They are bringing destruction to our Middle East and all this is happening under the eyes of United Nations and the Christian of Europe.
Sayyid Nasrallah – each day Maloula and Sidnaya are bombed. Churches are destroyed here and Monastery are burned there and our Christian Leaders no longer care about anything except their political positions.

This forthcoming death (Takfiris) will not leave any form of Christianity, neither chair (politician) nor person nor stone.  For that we are asking you, his Eminence to open for us the door to join the heroes who are defending us while we are sleeping.  The co-existence will not be preserved till you allow us to join your brigades and form a Jesus son of Mary brigade to be a sword in the face of the killers who permiss exposures and defiled the sanctity of the church.  It would be of honour to have our martyrs (die) beside your martyrs, who returned the honour and dignity to the homes of the Christian of Qusaiyr.

We hope you will hear our voice his Eminence Sayyid Hassan Nasrullah.

We hope everyone who sees this massage to spread it.

Egypt being pushed into sectarian violence

by Crescent online

Saudi preacher, Muhammad al-Arifi, has issued a fatwa saying prostitution by Muslim girls to service takfiri fighters in Syria is permissible.  Has the Ummah (Muslim world) fallen so low that such filthy fatwas can be issued and Muslims remain silent? At the same time, Arifi and Sheikh al-Qaradawi have launched an anti-Shia crusade leading to the lynching of four Shias in a village outside Cairo.

Muhammad al-Arifi
The lynching of four Muslims by a Salafi mob in Egypt has aroused fears about sectarian warfare in the country that is already reeling under multiple crises. Four Muslims were dragged out of a house in the village of Abu Mussalam near Cairo in Giza Province and beaten to death because they were Shias. The house was also set on fire.

The June 23 attack occurred when Shia Muslims gathered in the house of Sheikh Hassan Shehata to participate in prayers and duas on what is considered by many Muslims as a very auspicious night: Nisfu Sha‘ban (middle of the month of Sha‘ban). Many Muslims believe that on this night, Allah (swt) determines the fate of people for the coming year, hence the special prayers and duas for forgiveness and mercy.

The Salafis do not believe in this considering it as bida‘h (innovation in Islam). While there are differing opinions among Muslims about the significance of this night, only and only the Salafis think they have the license to kill people if they participate in such prayers. Hitherto, the Salafis in Egypt that are massively funded by the obscurantist Saudis and their court ulama, had not resorted to such atrocities. Political developments in the region have spurred them to launch vicious attacks against the small Shia community in Egypt that is less than 1% of the total population.

The defeat of takfiri groups in Syria at the hands of the Syrian army in recent weeks and anti-Shia rantings by people like Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian alim residing in Qatar, have encouraged the Salafis in Egypt and elsewhere to go on the offensive. It is distressing that al-Qaradawi, instead of thinking of the larger good of the Muslim Ummah has resorted to spewing sectarian hatred. He is widely seen as a stooge of the Qataris. Interestingly, the Saudis that consider the Qataris as too uppity, are also supporting al-Qaradawi’s sectarian crusade. One Saudi preacher in particular, Mohammed al-Arifi has made a name for himself in Salafi/takfiri circles.

In recent months, he is known to have issued a fatwa for Muslim girls to join what is referred to as “Jihad al-Munakiha”. What this means is that Muslim girls should go to Syria to provide sex services to the takfiri fighters in order to boost their morale. This is described as their “jihad”. Unfortunately some gullible girls from Tunisia have fallen for this obnoxious practice and actually gone to Syria to indulge in what is essentially prostitution.

The June 23 attack in the village of AbuMussalam was captured on video. It is horrible to watch a mob beat people to death with clubs while shouting “Allahu Akbar”. One wonders what kind of demonic notions these people hold. How are they glorifying Allah by killing people that were nothing more than praying the Merciful Lord!

Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil has said the attackers have been identified and would be punished. While the perpetrators of this attack may have been identified and perhaps will also be brought to court for trial, Qandil would be deluding himself if he believes that that would end the crisis. His own government led by President Mohamed Mursi is directly responsible for this horrible crime.

Only a day earlier (June 22), Mursi had addressed a huge rally in a Cairo stadium in which he not only announced cutting off diplomatic relations with Syria because of the Syrian army’s recent successes but he also urged “Sunni Muslims” to join the jihad in Syria! Salafi/takfiris were the predominant group in the stadium attracted to attend by the presence of the likes of al-Qaradawi and Arifi. Mursi’s call was made two days after a meeting by a group of about 70 ulama led by Sheikh al-Qaradawi that indulged in wild anti-Shia rhetoric. When otherwise respected scholars resort to such rhetoric and then political leaders adopt that rhetoric as policy, the consequences are bound to be catastrophic. The mob will take the law into its hands considering the vicious rhetoric as license to kill.

Mursi is faced with many challenges but this kind of dangerous rhetoric targeting a vulnerable minority to divert attention from his other problems will have grave consequences for Egypt. Even more disappointing than Mursi’s call is the hate-filled rhetoric of people like al-Qaradawi and Arifi. The Saudis had always indulged in such rhetoric but Qaradawi’s lending his support and weight will push the Ummah into a dangerous confrontation that can only benefit the enemies of Islam and Muslims.

Whether he realizes it or not, al-Qaradawi is acting as an imperialist-zionist agent. The Saudis were always part of that criminal syndicate. May Allah have mercy on the Ummah that has people like al-Qaradawi as its scholars.

Comment: this article was sent to me by a friend and I am happy to post it here as yet another proof of two extremely important facts:

a) Salafi/Takfiris hate other Muslims no less than they hate non-Muslims, and they treat them with the same brutal viciousness.
b) There are plenty of Muslims out there who are categorically against the kind of pseudo-Islam used to justify the crimes of these crazed thugs.  Please note that the author of this article speaks of "demonic notions" which, in the mouth of a religious person, is just about the strongest condemnation possible.

Most readers of this blog do understand all that, but I urge those of you who still hold to the simplistic (and factually wrong) notion that its Muslims vs non-Muslims to realize that this myth - usually spread by the Zionist media - only serves to divide those who otherwise should stand together against our common enemy: Anglo imperialism, Jewish Zionist and Takfiri/Salafi/Wahabi Satanism.

The Saker
PS: another crazy Salafi cleric,  Sheikh Yasir Al-Ajlawni, also recently contributed to an interesting fatwa.  In his opinion, it is legitimate to capture and rape non-Sunni (i.e. Shai, Alawi, Christian) women.  Clearly, this guy and his likes cannot be reasoned with and should be shot on site.  Which is what the Syrian Army is doing, for which they have my deepest gratitude.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Imperial hubris and plain stupidity

I have to say that I am both amazed and amused at the fantastically stupid manner in which US politicians have reacted to the Snowden affair.  Without pausing for a single second to think of the possible reaction to their attitude, they began to demand, threaten and otherwise bully not only China and Russia, but even any other country which in the future might render some assistance to Snowden.  Apparently, US politicians fail to realize a few very simple things:

a) By openly bullying and threatening China and Russia they are making it impossible for Chinese or Russian politicians to cave in to their demands and render Snowden back to the USA.

b) The White House is threatening Russia and China with unspecified "consequences" as if for the past several decades the USA did not use very dirty trick in the book to threaten, subvert, confront, antagonize, blackmail and otherwise piss off not only the Kremlin but the entire Russian population.  Seriously - what else could the USA possibly do to Russia?  As for China, Snowden just made public that the US had been engaged in a massive spying program against China, something which the Chinese authorities definitely knew, but which the Chinese general public did not know for a fact.  And now they want to make demands on the Chinese about the person who revealed that?

c) The USA and the UK are chock full with Chechen terrorists, Jewish oligarchs and even Russian bankers who have all run away from Russian justice and who have all received political asylum (yes, even bankers on the run!).  And, of course, there are plenty of real Russian defectors there too.  How can they seriously think that they can ignore any and all demands from the Russian justice system and then have Snowden rendered just because they now are banging their fists on the table?!

d) In legal terms Russia has no extradition treaty with the USA and therefore no obligation at all to render Snowden.  But then, the Brits actually had the arrogance to demand that Russia extradite a Russian citizen (Andrei Lugovoi) even while they were refusing to extradite Boris Berezovsky.

What amazes me, and diplomats all over the planet, is that, simply put, this is not how "things are done".  Normally, a request for extradition is made rather quietly, in as low  profile as possible, and usually after behind closed doors political consultations.  In the case of defections from intelligence/security organizations there is an "understanding" between the countries that these are never subject to rendition.  Take Poteev for example, a truly huge defection with nothing short of apocalyptic consequences for the Russian external intelligence agency SVR: neither Putin, nor Medvedev nor Lavrov have even mentioned his name in any public statements.  The only exception was Putin who said that "traitors always end up living miserable lives" and he did that to a domestic audience.  But Russian diplomats are mature enough to understand that once a guy like Poteev makes it to the USA, they have to accept the loss, correct the mistakes they made and turn the page.  What you do not do is have hysterical fits of rage and indulge in threatening the entire planet with fire and brimstone if they help your traitor.

The way the USA treats this Snowden affair shows that US politicians are poorly educated idiots with an insular mentality combined with a god complex.  They have the mentality of a bully who simply cannot accept that there are rules which everybody else follows and which apply to him too.  Beyond any doubt, the US diplomatic corps is the worst, most illiterate and incompetent of any major power and as a result of all that, the US foreign policy is clumsy, irrational, self-defeating and fundamentally dysfunctional.  Hence the long series of political defeats the USA had to cope with recently.

Long gone are the days of James Baker who truly was a born diplomat, an effective and refined negotiator and a politician with an acute sense of "the other" who brilliantly succeeded in putting together a large international coalition against Saddam Hussein (which even included the Syrians!).  Following Baker all the USA had is a mix of arrogant and bellicose women like Madelaine Albright, Condi Rice or Hillary Clinton, or spineless fake-heroes like Colin Powell or John Kerry who were supposedly war heroes but who never showed any individual courage or leadership qualities and who, as a result, were easily bullied into doing that which they fully knew was the dumb and wrong thing to do.

So here we have it.  The USA, biggest superpower on the planet, is reacting to a fundamentally minor annoyance like some crazy mix of a women with PMS and a 5 year old spoiled brat.  In a way, of course, it is funny.  But in a deeper way, this clearly illustrates something very serious.

Any good student of history will tell you that regardless of the moral and ethical merits of any political system, one can judge the viability of that system by the kind of people it promotes to its top positions.  The better the ability of any system to identify, promote and place the correct people at the correct position, the better the overall viability of the system.  Judged by this criteria, the USA clearly has lost its former ability to place the best people possible to key position.  Instead all it offers is a long list of mediocre, arrogant, ignorant and outright nasty individuals who simply do not have what it takes to get things done.

Yet another welcome sign that the Anglo Empire is running out of gas.

The Saker

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Edward Snowden probably does not know anything of interest to Russia or China

When I hear the corporate media and even most of the blogosphere say that Edward Snowden was a "CIA agent" or "NSA agent" with access to some super dooper secret information I smile: this is mostly likely not the case at all.  Yes, sure, Uncle Sam AND those who dislike the US Empire all have a stake in presenting Snowden as a real hot potato, but in real life he probably can tell the Russians or the Chinese very little which they would not already know.  Why?

Ok.  First look at his resume according to Wikipedia.  Certainly nothing very interesting here: had an early interest in computers, but flunked his first course; then got a GED and then he took a "MS Windows 2000 Systems Engineer w/ Exchange" course at a for-profit entity known as Advanced Career Technologies from February 2002 to May 2002."  W2k + Exchange?!  Hardly something very advanced!  Then he goes to the US Army, fails a Special Forces training (Tim McVeigh anybody?), then he worked as a security guard for the NSA and later the CIA.  He saw himself as such a IT genius that he felt the need to brag about it online.  Then he does twelves month of work in network security for the NSA, in the USA and overseas, before joining  Booz Allen Hamilton.  Does that really strike you are the career path of a computer genius?

Or does anybody seriously believe that the Chinese never suspected that the Anglosphere spied on their telephone network?

Not me.

I guess is that Snowden probably was a competent IT security admin who did a good job learning at his job and who was tasked with mid-level sysadmining at the CIA, NSA and  Booz Allen Hamilton.  So, of course, he knew about PRISM and all the rest of the US surveillance system.  But if for the general public his revelations are sensational (and they are in the political sense), there was nothing new in them for either the Russians or the Chinese.  In fact, Putin openly said so at a recent press conference where he said that nothing of what Snowden had "revealed" was new to them.

Furthermore, let me tell you this.  In the real world technical collection capabilities like PRISM, ECHELON, Carnivore, etc. are all really part of a much bigger system and the folks who actually operate these machines know *nothing* about "who does what" with the information they collect.  Nor are these folks privy to any decision-making mechanisms and nor can they influence them.  Intelligence agencies are highly compartmentalized and folks like Snowden or Manning, for that matter, have only access to a big volume of relatively uninteresting information.  The real "hot" stuff is handled much higher up in the hierarchy, in very separate branches, in highly compartmentalized teams where "need to know" is the key and where regular security clearances mean nothing.  This is why Wikileaks did not contain any really highly classified information.

Now, if Snowden had been a Russian agent, and if he had been deliberately executing intelligence collection requests for them, he could have done a lot.  But in that case he never would have defected or gone public.  The fact is that Snowden never was a Russian or Chinese "agent" and that he is not a spy at all, but a typical whistleblower.  While he never was allowed anywhere near the real world of deep secrecy of intelligence agencies, he did find out enough to be disgusted and he decided to go public.  Good for him!

But to say that he - or Manning - leaked any real secrets to the Russians, or anybody else, for that matter, is ridiculous.  The damage he - and Manning - did to the USA was purely a political one.  This is why neither the Chinese nor the Russians have shown any big interest in him or what he knows.

The Saker

Why I am afraid that Iceland will probably be Snowden's (very bad) choice

Having just shared some fun speculations with you, I will now tell you what I think Snowden will do: I think that he will pick Iceland.  Why?
  • Iceland does have a tradition of granting asylum to good people persecuted by Uncle Sam, like Bobby Fischer.
  • Iceland has a powerful political movement which supports civil rights and an open society.
  • Iceland is not associated in the mind of the typical American with any Evil Empire like Russia.
  • Iceland is populated by White, very often English speaking people.
Seriously, that last argument is huge in the mind of most Americans.  Just look where they typically go on holidays on their first trip to Europe: London.

Yup, most Americans are amazingly insular in their outlook, they do not know any foreign language, they have little or no interest for the non-Anglo world, and many of them actually fear it (-: hence the official term in the USA for folks like myself: a "legal alien"; makes me feel like I am from Mars or Alpha Centauri :-).

Anyway, is there anything wrong in the choice of Iceland?  Oh yes!

First, as I said previously, Iceland has a huge US military presence.  Worse, it is precisely because it is populated by White and often English speaking people that it would be relatively easy for any US operator or agent to hide in the crowd.  Furthermore, Iceland is really a tiny island with only one "big" city (with a population of only 120'000!) and a scattering of small towns.  Needless to say, its cold, grey, humid and desolate.  It's very pretty too, in its own way.  But for a young man from a huge country like the USA and who lived his latest years in Hawaii, this is going to be a big, big change of scenery, to put it mildly.

Then there is this: all defectors, repeat all, go through not only a culture shock, but usually a period of severe depression.  This is well known in security and intelligence services and this is something which is a major problem which often resulted in re-defections, even practically suicidal ones.

I won't go here into this entire business of defector mental issues, but I assure you that I have personally known enough defectors myself, personally, and often very closely, to tell you that if Snowden did not have a major depression it would be something of a miracle.  Well, being in a place like Iceland is hardly helpful in this context.

Finally, knowing the above, the US can easily snatch him off the street and make him admit that he is depressed and homesick (which he will be).  To make him "voluntarily" re-defect is rather easy, really.

You might ask why the US would be so dead set on the idea of punishing him.  It is not.  What Uncle Sam wants is to get him back at all costs not at all to punish him, but to send its own intelligence and security establishment the following chilling message: if you run away form us, we will get you back.

This is also a major reason why I would urge Snowden to pick either Russia, or China or Cuba.  All these countries have a great deal of experience with defectors (especially Russia), and they are acutely aware of the risks the mental condition of any and every defector presents and they have the psychological support services needed to help (and even that does not always fix the problem).

It would be heartbreaking for everybody to see a press conference with Snowden explaining that he is "voluntarily" returning to the USA.  If he decides to pick Iceland, he will make that kind of outcome much more likely.

The Saker

Let's have some innocent fun with the Snowden saga

So, as predicted, Snowden was not on the Aeroflot Su150 flight to Havana yesterday.  So let' indulge into some totally baseless but entertaining speculations: were could he be?

Until this morning I had this "Jamesbondesque" vision of the FSB whisking Snowden away into a Tu-95MS which would then fly a very long range track over the Atlantic (or even Pacific) to bring Snowden to Ecuador or Havana.  While rather uncomfortable (the Tu-95 is a Soviet era bomber with zero attention giving to the crews comfort), such an aircraft could take-off from Moscow and land in Ecuador without a single stop.  Of course, so could several times of civilian aircraft, but they would be completely unprotected from interception.  This is all irrelevant since Foreign Minister Lavrov said not only that Snowden did not cross the Russian border, but also that Russia had nothing to do with his movements.  If the first part of this statement could be considered a cute way of saying that he remained in the international zone of the airport, or even in a non-Russian diplomatic car or embassy, then the second part does seem to exclude a direct Russian participation in flying Snowden around.

As far as I remember - some passengers did recognize him on the flight from Hong Kong to Moscow (correct me if I misunderstood that).  So somebody has whisked him away from Moscow, or at least plans to do so, and it ain't the Russian Air Force or government.

So who else?  And where could he go?

Again, I personally see only four options: stay in Russia, or go to Ecuador, Venezuela or Cuba.  Other options would have included staying in China, but that seems to be "out" or getting to Iceland, but that is really a dangerous choice since, regardless of the hospitality and honor of the people of Iceland, Uncle Sam has a big military base right there, in Keflavik (a base of fantastic military importance had the Cold War turned hot).

My personal choice would have been to say in Russia or China, but if not there, Cuba is the best choice.  Unlike Venezuela and Ecuador, Cuba as a world-class security and intelligence establishment which can easily prevent any kidnapping of Snowden by CIA goons.  Not only that, but Cuba is so close to the USA that friends and relatives could easily travel to meet Snowden there, while he could watch US TV stations and feel very close to home.  The only risk here would be if the Cuban regime was threatened with collapse, which I personally do not at all see happening anytime soon.  But if Snowden wanted to hedge against that, he could quietly request a Russian (or Chinese) citizenship and be rapidly evacuated in case of serious problems.

But how can one get from Moscow to Cuba right under Uncle Sam's nose, especially without using Russian military or diplomatic travel methods?

By using Cuban ones, of course!

It just happens that Cubana Air Lines has some brand new Il-96-300 which could pull that off, in particular if it had the possibility to refuel somewhere.  Finally, the Cubans have a small, but competent, Air Force which could easily dispatch a few MiG-29s to meet the Il-96-300 on the last leg of its journey and escort it to a Cuban airport.

Well, it just happens that the next flight between Moscow and Cuba on such an Il-96-300 is scheduled for next Saturday, leaving Moscow at 14:05 and landing in Havana at 18:45.  It will be a Cubana flight (CU6150) operated by, yes, Aeroflot.  Neat, no?

BTW - there is also a CU6150 in the air right now (you can track him here), but it is an Airbus 330-200, which tells me that it is probably an Aeroflot aircraft and that would mean direct Russian involvement.

All of the above is complete and total speculation based on nothing but my inclination to try to imagine scenarios.  

Before we find out what actually happened, does anybody else want to play at this guessing game?


The Saker

Monday, June 24, 2013

A couple of small comments about Edward Snowden flight

A couple of small points about Edward Snowden's flight from Hong Kong:

1) US politicians are making all sorts of threats against China, Russia and anybody else who would help Snowden.  This is the pinnacle of hypocrisy.  Even if the US considers Snowden is a common spy - does anybody remember the long list of spies, including Russian ones, who found refuge in the USA (think Poteev here)?

2) It is most unlikely that Snowden is on the Aeroflot SU 150 flying to Cuba.  The flight's captain did not choose an eastern course over the Atlantic and away from US airspace, but a rather western course, well within not only US airspace, but even over US territory.  See for yourself.  This is the position of SU 150 at 1300 EDT:

3) Both Cuba or Ecuador are, in my opinion, bad locations for Snowden to chose as his new residence as both are heavily infiltrated by US intelligence services.  In my opinion he would be far better off in China or Russia both of which could easily remove him from the general public's "radar" forever.

We will see what happens.

The Saker

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The real meaning of the West's diplomatic defeat at the G8 summit in Lough Erne

Following the 08.08.08 war between Georgia and Russia and the crushing military defeat of the US-backed Saakashvili regime I wrote the following in this blog:
The ugly attack by Washington's Georgian puppet on the Russian peacekeepers combined with the absolutely amazing hypocrisy of the Western media and politicians who all fully sided with the aggressor turned into something of a “last straw” for Russia. This seemingly marginal development, at least when assessed quantitatively (“what else is new?”) ended up making a huge qualitative difference: it brought up a new Russian resolve to deal with, to use a favorite Neocon expression, an existential threat represented by the Western Empire. It will take a long while for the West to realize what has really happened and the most obtuse of pundits and politicians will probably hang on to their usual self-righteous rhetoric forever, but historians will probably look back at the month of August 2008 as the moment when Russia decided to strike back at the Empire for the first time.
Something very similar has, I strongly believe, happened again, but this time in Libya and, even more so, in Syria.  Again what we saw was "an ugly attack by Washington's puppets" and, again, the Western media and politicians fully sided with the aggressor.  The images of NATO unleashing a full-scale bombing campaign against Libya under the pretext of "protecting civilians" and the images of Gaddafi lynched by a mob of thugs who jammed a knife in his anus while screaming that "God is great" also infuriated the Russian political leadership and public opinion.  This anger combined with the shameful realization that Russia did carry a large portion of the guilt for what happened in Libya (through its monumentally stupid abstention at the UNSC), explains why there was a total consensus in Russia not to have the same thing happen in Syria.

The big difference with Russia's response in 2008 is primarily geographical: Syria is not on the Russian border and Russian peacekeepers were not attacked.  Besides, it is one thing take on the US-backed but fundamentally inept Georgian military and quite another to take military action against the combined might of CENTOM/NATO and the US.  So the Russian reaction had to be of a non-military nature.  It now appears that Russia did two thing:
  1. Russia gave full and uncompromising diplomatic backing to Syria at the UN and on the international political scene.
  2. It carefully coordinated with Iran and Hezbollah a covert military support plan.
I already wrote about the 2nd component, so I will not return to this here, but I do want to return to the first, political, part of the Russian response.  Primarily, I want to do this because I am amazed to see that, at least as far as I know, no commentator or analyst has truly understood its importance.  So let's look a little deeper into this.

First, Russia was not alone.  China took exactly the same stance.  In fact, both Russian and Chinese diplomats confirmed that the level of political coordination and cooperation between Russia and China were "unprecedented".  What does that mean?

Nobody denies that in the Syrian conflict Russia is the primary player.  China is hardly mentioned and, when it is, it is only in passing.  And in this case, this focus on Russia is the result of the undeniable fact that Russia is in charge of the "Syrian dossier" while China is backing Russia.  You want proof?  Look at where all the Western politicians go to try to get Moscow and Beijing to desist from their current stance: Russia.  Nobody travels to Beijing to try to argue with the Chinese. To say that is in no way a criticism of China.  If the issue was something of primarily Chinese interest, say the Spratly Islands, China would be at the front of the struggle and Russia in the back seat.  What this means for Russia is that it is taking far more "heat" for its stance than China and yet, very little credit is given to it for this.  Most pro-Syrian commentators want Russia to do even more, primarily because they don't understand how much Russia has already done.

Let me ask you this: when is the last time that you remember a Russian or even Soviet leader openly standing up and defying the combined power of the entire Western world?  The answer depends on your criteria I guess, but I would submit that in my opinion the last Russian/Soviet leader who dared to truly stand up to the West was Stalin during WWII.  Krushchev waved his shoe, but eventually backed down, Brezhnev really did not take any strong positions on anything, Andropov soon died, Chernenko got into power half-dead already, while Gorbachev, Eltsin and Medvedev really were "yes men" towards the West.

Putin in contrast not only dared to openly defy the other G8 leaders who were united against him and dead set into making him comply, he actually forced them to comply to his terms.  I cannot recall the last time when the combined power of the Western diplomacy was so completely routed.  The G8 leaders, who used to look down on Russia and who all thought of themselves as G7+1 (not only that idiot Harper) suddenly found themselves in a situation I called "Putin and the Seven Dwarfs":

How did that happen?  Why is it that in an organization which presumably represents the eight largest economies on the planet (it does not: Brazil, India and China are missing) a country like Russia, with a comparatively tiny economy, small military and very few other assets, could turn giants into dwarfs?  Surely not because of Russian nukes (which the US, UK and France also have) or the Russian veto power at the UN (which the US, UK, France and China also have).

Something much more complex happened here.  For the first time in many decades a country made a comprehensive moral and legal argument.  Russia openly told the West that what it was doing was wrong on moral and on legal grounds and that what was at stake at this point was much more than Syria, it was the kind of international system the entire planet has to live in.  To put it more directly and in simple and non-diplomatic turn, Russia called the West a hypocritical thug and it rejected the right of the hypocritical thugs to lead anything, much less so a military intervention against a sovereign nation.

While this moral and legal stance absolutely enraged the Western political elites and corporate Zio-media, it deeply "resonated" in the world public opinion.  And here, we see something very typically Russian which a lot of Russian leaders have done in history and which Putin has already done twice: he bypassed the elites and appealed directly to the of people.  Putin is doing that right now in Russia (all his recent political moves as based on mass popular support and his All-Russia People's Front is fully centered on this method) and Putin is also doing that in his foreign policy.  And just as the pro-Western political elites in Russia are shamed and rendered flaccid by the political climate in Russia, so are the Western political leaders who simply do not have the political courage to openly start yet another illegal war in support of organ-eating religious crazies.

I personally believe that if historians look back at August 2008 as "the moment when Russia decided to strike back at the Empire for the first time" they will also come to realize that June 2013 is the moment when Russia decided to strike back at the Empire for the second time.  The first strike was a local military strike while the second strike was a planetary, global, moral and political strike and I am aghast at the fact that nobody seems to realize that this is truly a huge development.

The current Anglo Empire stands on two key pillars: its willingness to bully and terrorize the planet with violence (military or covert) and its amazing ability to carefully frame the international public discourse in such a manner as to make the most obnoxious and brazen example of double-standards and hypocrisy appear fully logical and consistent with values of democracy, international law and humanitarian concerns.  And, of course, this has been denounced by many people worldwide, but it has never been so openly and directly challenged by a top world leader.  Make no mistake - Putin did not only challenge the Empire's right to overthrow Assad, he really challenged the very nature of the Anglo-dominated international system since semi-covertly 1945 and openly since 1995 (Anglo aggression on the Serb nation in Bosnia).

The Russian military victory in 08.08.08 did not mark the end of what is really a struggle for national liberation of Russia from the Anglo Empire. Far from it.  Nor will the Russian diplomatic victory at the recent G8 summit in Ireland mark the end of this long process.  But with each such Russian counter-strike against the Empire the Anglo domination over the planet is getting weaker and weaker while it becomes easier for other nations to find a voice and maybe even dare to have an opinion?  In the Western cultural "heartland" (US and EU) there is gradually more and more hell to pay for politicians who dare to ignore their own public opinion.  Look what happened recently to a Russian TV crew in Paris which was making a report on the daily protests against the laws adopted by the French parliament which now makes it legal for homosexuals to adopt children:

They were literally mobbed by a crowd chanting "La Russie avec nous!  La Russie avec nous!" (Russia with us!  Russia with us!).  You might wonder what the link is between 08.08.08 and Syria on one hand, and homopolitics in France on the other, but I would suggest that the link is obvious:  in the process of its struggle for national liberation from the Anglo Empire Russia is also positioning itself as an alternative civilizational model.  So its not only about respect for international law or the rejection of the Western "turbocapitalist" model, it is also about the determined defense of the traditional family structure, about the categorical rejection of sexual psychopathologies or the respect of national traditions (try having a "gay pride parade" in downtown Grozny!).

Of course, countries like Iran have been doing that for years, but being Muslim and very different historically and culturally, the Iranian model has very little "traction" in Europe.  Not that the "Russian model" (which really is only under development to begin with!) has a much bigger potential: in reality Russia is as different a civilization from the West as Iran, but being being geographically closer and politically and historically more connected, Russia has just barely enough "traction" to be noted by those who Europeans who are already alienated from their own political elites.  Let's face it - Ahmadinejad and Putin can say the exact same thins about sexual psychopathologies, but it is much harder to ignore Putin, in particular when he speaks in Germany, Holland or the UK (as he did recently). Still, savvy political dissidents in France, like Alain Soral, always mention Russia and Iran.

In economic terms, the alternative civilizational model being developed is, of course, the BRICS model (and, maybe, its junior Latin-American counterpart, the ALBA).

In military terms, the alternative model being worked on is the SCO with the  CSTO as its current military "core" (this could dramatically change if China decided to enter into a formal defense treaty, but that is unlikely).

The G8 summit at Lough Erne showed that the Anglo Empire is not nearly as powerful as most people thought.  This, however, does not at all mean that it is weak, not by a long shot.  The Empire will adapt, it will come to terms with new, more difficult, circumstances, and it will still remain the foremost planetary power for the foreseeable future.  But the overall trend, I believe, clear.  And this is why the corporate Zio-media made as little as possible from the comprehensive defeat of the Western diplomacy in Lough Erne.  There will be throwbacks, disappointments and even defeats in the future, but at the very least we have good reasons to continue hoping for an eventual victory.

The Saker